New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Ben Affleck directs and stars as Tony Mendez "Argo."
Updated: March 22, 2013 6:42AM
NEW THIS WEEK
R for language and some violent images
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston
Combining real-life espionage drama with a side-order of Hollywood satire, “Argo” never less than fascinating and it’s also, by turns, extremely suspenseful and surprisingly funny. Affleck’s first two films as director were impressive, but this is something special, deftly and entertainingly recounting the little-known true story of a CIA operative who flew into Iran during the 1980 hostage crisis and rescued six Americans who had managed to slip away to the Canadian embassy. The major laughs come from the Hollywood satire when a phony movie production is set up with the help of a makeup artist (Goodman) and a washed-up producer (Arkin). That’s all forgotten, though, in the nerve-wracking final act when Affleck and his charges try to bluff their way out of the country with the Revolutionary Guard two steps behind them. Extras include commentary by Affleck and featurettes such as “Rescued from Tehran: We Were There.”
R for some sexuality and violence
Keira Knightley, Jude Law. Aaron Taylor-Johnson
With more than two dozen film adaptations of Tolstoy’s classic novel already in existence, director Joe Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard apparently felt something extra-clever was needed to spruce up the old girl for another go-round. Hence the decision to set this “Anna Karenina” on the stage (and in the wings and behind the scenery) of a 19th-century theater. That intriguing device is executed with impressive visual flair by Wright, with his actors perpetually moving from one setting to another while dodging moving scenery — almost always in brisk, highly choreographed, almost-perpetual motion. Unfortunately, so much effort is made to keep us visually dazzled that it’s difficult to maintain emotional involvement as the story unfolds — despite excellent performances from Knightly, Law and others. It doesn’t help, however, that 21-year old Taylor Johnson has been seriously miscast as Anna’s dashing lover, sporting blonde hair and a dainty moustache that makes him look uncomfortably like Gene Wilder in “Young Frankenstein.”
Victoria Justice, Chelsea Handler, Thomas Middleditch
A strange blend of sweet young romance and crude high school sex comedy on training wheels, “Fun Size” seems to be setting out to model sleazy teen behavior for impressionable ‘tween girls. This Nickelodeon production is nowhere near as raunchy as the average R rated teen comedy or even director Josh Schwartz’s TV series. It does set out in that direction, with enough entry-level infusions of potty humor, gross-out gags and precocious sex to titillate wannabe teenagers. It’s all about one wild Halloween night for nice girl Wren (Justice) and her not-quite-so-nice best friend April (Levy), who fumes when Wren’s mom (Handler) makes her take her obnoxious little brother trick-or-treating. Extras include a gag reel and deleted scenes.
R for disturbing violent images and some terror
Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransome
“Don’t worry,” says former best-selling true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Hawkes) to his wife after moving his family into a house where the previous occupants were mysteriously butchered. “I’ve got a good feeling about this.” Oswalt doesn’t look stupid, but that bone-headed remark is just the first of his countless idiocies in this undeniably creepy yet maddeningly frustrating horror show. Most having to do with his refusal to leave after it becomes clear the house is haunted by an ancient demon who gets his kicks from serial family slaughter. Director Scoot Derrickson delivers up some stylish scares and Hawkes doesn’t skimp on the heart-palpitating reaction shots, but even so, you’ll probably spend half the film smiting your forehead and muttering, “just leave, just leave, just leave already.” Extras include commentaries and deleted scenes.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
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THE EASTER PARADE
The classic 1948 Fred Astaire/Judy Garland musical, makes its high-def, Blu-ray debut in this 65th anniversary edition. Extras include commentaries, a 1951 Screen Guild Theatre radio broadcast, a “Mr. Monotony” outtake and the American Masters documentary “Judy Garland: By Myself.”
GAME OF THRONES: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
This five-disc set features each season two episode of the Golden Globe-winning medieval-fantasy series about warring clans fighting for the throne of the fictional kingdom of Westeros. Extras include assorted featurettes, character profiles and commentaries.
MISSIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAR: THE DOOLITTLE RAID
This documentary recounts one of WWII’s most daring missions, the plan for a first air strike in Japan, led by aviation pioneer and Medal of Honor winner Jimmy Doolittle.
NOVA: ULTIMATE MARS CHALLENGE
This PBS science documentary tells the story of the robotic rover Curiosity’s two-year exploration of Mars, featuring interviews with the team of scientists and engineers responsible for the mission.
This Oscar-winning 2011 documentary tells the story of the under-funded, underprivileged Manassas Tigers high-school football team, which attempts to reverse its fortunes with the leadership of a new volunteer coach.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
Gerard Butler and Jonny Weston seek the ultimate wave in “Chasing Mavericks,” Liberace struts his sui-generis stuff “The Candelabra Collection” and zombie films from around the world chow down in “The Ultimate Zombie Feast Volume 1.”