The most famous hand puppets in the world made a huge comeback late last year in a film that leads these new Blu-rays and DVDs.
"The Muppets: Wocka-Wocka Value Pack" (Disney/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital + CD, 2011, PG, three discs, $49.99). This delightful revival of Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang was a welcome respite from the "serious" films of fall and winter, and the disc includes lots of humorous Muppet antics among the bonus features, as well.
For the uninitiated, the plot has Jason Segal and his adopted Muppet brother, along with Segal's fiancee (Amy Adams), tracking down Kermi and crew to get the act back together and put on a show. Inventive songs and gags, and, despite a minor misstep or two, it's all very enjoyable family fare.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted scenes, audio commentary, comic featurettes, bloopers; audio soundtrack download card (also available as two-disc Blu-ray/DVD, $39.99; two-disc DVD/CD, $34.99; and single-disc DVD, $29.99)
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (Universal/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011; R for sex, nudity, language; two discs, $34.98). Longtime character actor Gary Oldman received his first Oscar nomination this year for his excellent, understated performance in the role that Alec Guinness created for television more than two decades ago, based on the John le Carre novel about a spy coming out of retirement in the 1970s to uncover a Russian mole in Britain's Secret Intelligence Service.
And the terrific supporting cast boasts many familiar British faces, including Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Hurt.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted scenes, featurettes (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"The Descendants" (Fox/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2011; R for language; two discs, $39.99). Winner of the best adapted screenplay Oscar and nominated in several other categories — including George Clooney's marvelous performance in the lead — this melodrama is strong stuff, with some unexpected twists and turns as Clooney finds himself in charge of the daughters he has neglected after his wife slips into a coma following a boating accident. Harsh in places but very well done.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions; deleted scenes, featurettes, music videos, short silent film: "The World Parade: Hawaii" (also on single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" (Sony, 2011; R for violence, sex, nudity, language; $30.99). An interesting mystery and compelling characters are undermined by sleazy treatment — especially a horrifyingly unwatchable rape sequence — in this adaptation of the popular Swedish novel (previously filmed in its home country). Daniel Craig is the reporter paired with a damaged computer wiz (Oscar-nominated Rooney Mara) to solve a 40-year-old disappearance.
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary (with many more bonus features on three-disc Blu-ray/DVD/digital, $40.99)
"Wizards: 35th Anniversary Edition" (Fox/Blu-ray, 1977, PG, $34.99). After a string of X- and R-rated cartoon features (beginning with "Fritz the Cat"), animator Ralph Bakshi came up with his idea of a family picture, a post-apocalyptic fantasy with fairies and elves, as well as footage of Hitler, as wizard brothers represent good and evil in a war between magic and industrial technology.
As he would continue to do, Bakshi used quite a bit of rotoscoping here — animation layered over live-action footage, something of a forerunner to current motion-capture techniques. A cult favorite among animation and fantasy buffs. Mark Hamill provides a character voice. (The good wizard here is named "Avatar"!)
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, featurette, photo gallery, trailers; 24-page collectible book packaging
"Hop" (Universal, Blu-ray + DVD +Digital + Mini-Movie, 2011, PG, two discs, $39.98).
Some interesting ideas about how once-a-year holiday fantasy characters do their work are lost in lame gags (too many of them scatological) and smarmy performances in this mix of live-action and animation.
Extras: widescreen; Blu-ray, DVD and digital verions; featurettes, interactive games, "mini-movie" short cartoon (also on single-disc DVD/digital, $34.98, and single-disc DVD, $29.98)
"Teen a Go Go" (Cinema Libre, 2012, $19.95). Toe-tapping, entertaining little documentary about the "teen scene" in 1960s Fort Worth, Texas, and how the appearance of the Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1964 led to a bevy of popular garage bands. Interviews include many band members and national observers whose amusing anecdotes are backed by music of the era. Of particular interest for baby boomers.
Extras: widescreen, featurettes
"A Lonely Place to Die" (IFC/Blu-ray, 2011, $29.98). Hikers in the Scottish Highlands find a young kidnapped girl, which leads to a cat-and-mouse fight for survival. Starts off strong and has some suspenseful moments but all too quickly becomes overly convoluted and runs out of steam.
Extras: widescreen, trailer (also on DVD, $24.98)
"Snow White: A Deadly Summer" (Lionsgate, 2012, PG-13, $26.98). Bizarre, amateurish twist on the fairy tale is a modern-day story of a wicked stepmother (Marcia Brady herself, Maureen McCormick) convincing her husband (Eric Roberts) to send his daughter (Shanley Caswell) to a "discipline camp" that oddly resembles Camp Crystal Lake in "Friday the 13th."
Extras: widescreen, audio commentary, photo gallery
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