Warner Bros. Pictures
OK, Batman fans, “The Dark Knight Rises” is finally on home video, along with the excellent family film “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”
“The Dark Knight Rises” (Warner/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG-13, three discs, $35.99, featurettes, documentary: “The Batmobile,” trailers, art gallery). Filmmaker Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale wrap up their 21st century Batman trilogy in high fashion, with a scary villain (Tom Hardy) threatening Gotham City while Bruce Wayne licks his wounds — until his wake-up call, of course, which comes with help from a seductive, independent and resourceful Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are back, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt is a nice addition, as is Hathaway. And Bale, as expected, is quite good as the title character. (Also on single-disc DVD, $28.98)
“The Odd Life of Timothy Green” (Disney/Blu-ray + DVD, 2012, PG, two discs, $39.99, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, music video). An infertile couple (Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton) whimsically compiles a list of the traits they’d like a child to have, then they bury the list in the backyard. To their amazement, a real child (CJ Adams) sprouts up, saying he’s their son, so they attempt to adapt.
Compelling performances (including a very funny turn from Dianne Wiest) guided by director Peter Hedges’ sure hand make it all work. Though rated PG, this could easily be rated G. (Also on DVD, $29.99)
“Hope Springs” (Columbia/Blu-ray, 2012, PG-13, $35.99, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers). Frustrated wife Meryl Streep coerces husband Tommy Lee Jones into attending counseling sessions to reignite their passion under the tutelage of counselor Steve Carell. Despite the ads that sell this as a comedy, it’s a dramatic film with moments of comedy, and many more of surprising vulgarity, especially given its rating — which, in a sane world, would most certainly be R.
“Thunderstruck” (Warner Premiere/Blu-ray + DVD + Digital, 2012, PG, $29.98, featurettes). By-the-numbers “Freaky Friday”-style sports comedy has a 16-year-old fan of NBA All-Star Kevin Durant magically trading talents, giving the boy a game he never had and putting Durant into a slump. Durant plays himself, and James Belushi is a coach. OK kids picture resembles a TV movie. (Also on DVD, $27.95)
“Butter” (Anchor Bay/Blu-ray + DVD, 2012; R for language, sex, drugs; two discs, $29.99, deleted/extended scenes, bloopers). Surprisingly flat and way too sleazy political satire with Jennifer Garner stooping to dirty tricks to win an Iowa butter-carving competition against a young child. Great cast (including Ty Burrell, Olivia Wild, Alicia Silverstone and Hugh Jackman) flounders in this crock of unflattering stereotypes. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” (IFC/Blu-ray, 2012; R for language; $29.98, in English and in Mandarin with English subtitles, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, trailer). China’s most famous artist and activist is the focus of this documentary. The sculptor, photographer, filmmaker and installation artist has seen his work widely praised around the world, but his outspoken criticism of his home country has put him in a targeted spotlight. Excellent exploration of art and politics in China laced with a surprising sense of humor.
“Wu Dang” (Well Go/Blu-ray, 2012, not rated, $29.98, deleted/extended scenes, featurette, trailer). So-so martial arts adventure has hidden treasures luring thieves against the backdrop of a kung fu combat championship. (Also on DVD, $24.98)
“Fred 3: Camp Fred” (Lionsgate, 2012, not rated, $14.98, featurettes). The third in the series of Nickelodeon cable-TV movies about Fred Figglehorn (Lucas Cruikshank), a character popularized in YouTube videos. Here, Fred’s mom signs him up for a summer camp run by Tom Arnold.
“The Dog Who Saved the Holidays” (Anchor Bay, 2012, PG, $19.98). The title tells it all for this “Home Alone” variation with talking dogs, a straight-to-DVD kids comedy featuring Dean Cain, Michael Gross and Shelley Long in support.
“Elf-Man” (Anchor Bay, 2012, not rated, $19.98). Jason “Wee Man” Acuna stars in the title role of this kids movie about an elf left behind by Santa and his discovery that he has superpowers. Straight-to-video comedy.
“V/H/S” (Magnolia, 2012; R for violence, language, sex, nudity, drugs; $26.98, alternate ending, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, trailers). Yet another found-footage horror movies about petty criminals hired to retrieve a videotape. (Also on Blu-ray, $29.98)
“A Vampire’s Tale” (Lionsgate, 2009; R for violence, language, sex, nudity, drugs; $26.98, audio commentary, featurette, music video). Yet another vampire yarn, this time with an undead cowboy coming after unsuspecting modern-day innocents.
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