“Lincoln” arrives on home video this week and “Terminator” fans are probably primed for the new Blu-ray set of all four movies.
“Lincoln” (Touchstone/Dreamworks/ Fox/Blu-ray, 2012, PG-13, four discs, $28; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions; featurettes). Daniel Day-Lewis won a well-deserved and unprecedented third best-actor Oscar for his portrayal of our 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s masterful film about the rough road toward amending the Constitution to permanently abolish slavery.
The screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tony Kushner superbly weaves history with anecdotal vignettes as each character is cleverly delineated with a distinct personality, which lends depth for the audience to better understand where each is coming from as the debates’ voices rise. (The only misstep is a coda with Lincoln’s assassination, an unnecessary sequence.)
But this being Spielberg’s work, the film is also highly entertaining as an array of recognizable actors bring to life all the players in this complex drama, led by Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, James Spader and Hal Holbrook. (Also on two-disc Blu-ray combo, $24.50, and single-disc DVD, $17.99)
“Terminator Anthology” (Warner/Blu-ray, 1984-2009, R/PG-13, five discs, $49.99, four movies, alternate versions, deleted scenes, audio commentaries, featurettes). Watching the four “Terminator” movies again is like watching a documentary on the evolution of special effects, with the first film using now antiquated stop-motion animation, then with the sequels displaying the gradual evolution of digital special effects from 1991 to 2003 to 2009. Violent and profane, of course, but all four films are real thrill rides for fans.
“Day of the Falcon” (Image/Blu-ray, 2011; R for violence; $29.97, featuretes, storyboards). Big-budget Arabian film stars Antonio Banderas in the story of two warring tribes battling over desolate territory, ultimately making peace and agreeing that neither will own the land. But some years later when Americans find oil there it reignites the tribes’ rivalry. Beautifully photographed with nicely staged battles scenes, but at 130 minutes it’s also talky and slow. (Also on DVD, $27.97)
“Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home” (Cinema Libre, 2012, not rated, $24.95, audio commentary, photo gallery, trailers). Thomas Q. Napper was second-unit director on “The Soloist,” starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx, when he was introduced to the Los Angeles homeless community as many auditioned to be extras on the film. This documentary sprang from his desire to allow these people to tell their own stories, resulting in a compelling, sad treatise on the disenfranchised and mentally ill. Narrated by Catherine Keener.
“To the Arctic” (IMAX/Warner/Blu-ray, 2012, G, $44.95; Blu-ray, DVD, digital versions, featurettes, trailer). Meryl Streep narrates this gorgeously filmed documentary about a mother polar bear with two seven-month-old cubs navigating the shifts in their Arctic home caused by the changing climate. The cinematography really pops in Blu-ray. (Also on DVD, $28.98)
“Adventures in Zambezia” (Sony, 2012, G, $26.99, featuretes, music video). Set in a bird city on the edge of Victoria Falls, this animated feature is beautifully composed and, despite its been-there-done-that story about a young falcon striking out on his own, kids should have a great time. South African feature has been dubbed with an excellent voice cast, including Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum and Leonard Nimoy. (This one is being sold exclusively at Wal-Mart for a brief time.) (Also on Blu-ray, $30.99)
“A Turtle’s Tale 2: Sammy’s Escape From Paradise” (Gaiam, 2013, not rated, $19.98). On the other hand, this animated feature from Belgium owes more than a little to “Finding Nemo” and the look is not nearly up to “Zambezia.” Having said that, however, the film does have a certain charm and will probably captivate children.
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