1 of 2
Frank Masi, Twentieth Century Fox
Bruce Willis, right, and Justin Long star in the third "Die Hard" sequel, "Live Free or Die Hard."
Gearing up for Christmas-shopping sprees, a number of high-profile titles have arrived on DVD this week, including some of this past summer's big-buck sequels.

Recent films

"Live Free or Die Hard: Unrated" (Fox, 2007, two discs, $34.98). Bruce Willis returns to the role that made him a star 19 years ago, as a weary New York cop, this time paired with a computer/conspiracy nerd (very funny Justin Long), taking on high-tech terrorists in Manhattan. Great fun — and, for a change, a sequel that is most welcome.

Extras: widescreen, featurettes, music video, digital copy of the film (also available in single-disc, full-frame, PG-13 version, or single-disc, widescreen, unrated version, $29.99)

"Rescue Dawn" (MGM, 2007; R for violence, language; $29.99). Very well-made film by Werner Herzog, based on his own documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly," about a pilot shot down over Laos, who escapes from a Vietnamese POW camp with a comrade. Excellent performances from Christian Bale and Steve Zahn in this true story of survival in the worst of circumstances.

Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery

"Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" (Warner, 2007, PG-13, $34.99). Harry and friends are back again to please fans of the books. Character- and plot-heavy but enjoyable.

Extras: Widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes; DVD-Rom applications (also available in single disc widescreen or full-frame editions, $28.98)

"Interview" (Sony Classics, 2007; R for language, drugs; $24.96). Steve Buscemi directed, co-wrote and stars in this comedy-drama about a cynical reporter who reluctantly interviews a starlet (Sienna Miller) and the clash that follows. Talky but interesting.

Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary (by Buscemi), featurettes

"Shrek the Third" (Dreamworks, 2007, PG, $29.99). More vulgar fairy-tale spoofery for fans of the series, which does not include me.

Extras: separate widescreen and full-frame editions, deleted scenes, featurettes, games; DVD-Rom applications

"The Nanny Diaries" (Weinstein/Genius, 2007, PG-13, $29.95). This comedy about a struggling college grad becomes a nanny for an ultra-rich family has some amusing moments but never quite comes together. Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Nicholas Grayer, Chris Evans, Paul Giamatti and Alicia Keys star.

Extras: widescreen, featurettes, bloopers, trailer

"Hot Rod" (Paramount, 2007, PG-13, $29.99). Silly, crude comedy about a bumbling amateur stunt man ("Saturday Night Live's" Andy Samberg). Super Dave anyone? Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek, Will Arnett and Isla Fisher co-star.

Extras: widescreen, deleted/extended scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, bloopers, trailer

"Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause" (Disney, 2006, G, $29.99). Despite the impressive cast, this second sequel with Tim Allen as Santa is pretty weak, especially when he is forced to take on Jack Frost (Martin Short). Ann-Margret, Alan Arkin, Peter Boyle.

Extras: widescreen, alternate opening, audio commentary, featurettes, music video, "Carol-Oke," bloopers, trailers

"Bratz" (Lionsgate, 2007, PG, $28.98). Live-action version of the cartoon show about the title characters, self-absorbed high school girls.

Extras: separate widescreen and full-frame editions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, music videos

Documentaries

"Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" (Paramount, 1991; R for language; $24.99). This chronicle of the making of Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" is an attempt by his wife, documentary filmmaker Eleanor Coppola, to set the record straight about the notorious film shoot — a story that is every bit as compelling as the film it explores. And it's now 30 years later! Coppola and crew went to the Philippines in 1977 for a structured shoot only to encounter one disaster after another. Expertly edited with on-the-set footage and interviews conducted 10 years later (with just about everyone except Marlon Brando).

Extras: full frame, featurette about Francis Ford Coppola's latest film

"The Ritchie Boys" (Docurama, 2004, $26.95). A group of German-Jewish intellectuals run out of Germany in the 1930s joined the Army and were put together for their language and cultural knowledge to act as strategists in aiding the Allies during World War II. A fascinating history lesson, with still-sharp survivors telling their stories, and investing them with warmth and humor.

Extras: widescreen, featurette, text filmmaker biography

"Beyond the Golden Compass: The Magic of Philip Pullman" (Koch, 2007, $19.98). Just in time for the big-screen adaptation comes this deconstruction of — and, one could argue, a pre-emptive strike to defend — Pullman's controversial book trilogy. Pullman and scholars are interviewed, insisting the books are not anti-religion. Draw your own conclusions. (Special effects and actors are used, with voiceover narration.)

Extras: widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes

"Ghosts of Cite Soleil" (Think, 2007, $27.98). A harrowing look at two gang leaders in Haiti who are trying to build a better life for their families.

Extras: widescreen; in English, and in Haitian and French with English subtitles; trailers

Foreign films

"Angel-A" (Sony Classics, 2006; R for language, sex; b/w, $29.95). This visually stunning black-and-white valentine to Paris is, unfortunately, a rather heavy-handed fantasy-comedy about a small-time thug attempting suicide, then instead rescuing a statuesque blonde who seems to change his destiny.

Extras: widescreen, French with English subtitles, featurette


E-mail: [email protected]