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NEW RELEASES / DVDs

'Twilight,' 'Bolt,' 'Elegy,' 'The Robe'

Vampires run amuck, animated animals team up and more.

March 15, 2009|Noel Murray

Twilight

Summit, $32.99; Blu-ray, $34.95

Stephenie Meyer has banked a fortune with her series of young adult novels about a lovelorn teenager and the supernatural creatures who pine for her. The first volume, "Twilight," became a smash-hit movie last year, making stars out of Robert Pattinson (playing a moody vampire) and Kristen Stewart (as the mortal high school girl he loves and protects). There's nothing in "Twilight" that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" didn't do exponentially better, but clearly the story and the way it has been adapted has struck a chord.

The double-disc "Twilight" DVD and Blu-ray special editions include a commentary track by the stars and director Catherine Hardwicke, as well as deleted scenes, music videos and a lengthy behind-the-scenes documentary. (The Blu-ray edition will be available exclusively at Target and Best Buy until May 5.)

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Bolt

Disney, $29.99/$32.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Although it ran a distant third behind "Wall-E" and "Kung Fu Panda" for the title of 2008's best animated family film, "Bolt" is polished, punchy entertainment, fun for all ages. John Travolta provides the voice for the title character, a TV star dog who doesn't realize that his adventures are fictional. When Bolt accidentally travels to New York, he tries to use his nonexistent superpowers to help him get back to Hollywood and learns instead to rely on his new friends: a cynical cat and a fanboy hamster. The double-disc DVD and Blu-ray editions add a bonus short and a wealth of featurettes.

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Elegy

Sony, $27.96

Director Isabel Coixet and screenwriter Nicholas Meyer bring the sophistication of novelist Philip Roth to the big screen in this grown-up romance starring Ben Kingsley as an aloof academic who loses his objectivity when he falls for a student played by Penelope Cruz. The material's a little over-intellectualized, but it's refreshing to see top-flight actors playing characters and situations that feel genuinely mature. Meyer contributes a commentary track to the DVD, which also includes a making-of featurette.

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The Robe

Fox, $19.98; Blu-ray, $34.98

In 1953, 20th Century Fox tried to tempt people away from their televisions with "The Robe," a biblical drama about the aftermath of Jesus' crucifixion from the Romans' point of view. It was the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope ("The modern miracle you can see without glasses," the ads boasted), and it became a critical success and a box-office sensation. The new Blu-ray edition is something of a sensation itself, boasting all the special features of the DVD (a Martin Scorsese intro, a commentary by film historians and retrospective featurettes) while adding vintage promotional materials, documentaries about CinemaScope and Hollywood's biblical binge and two picture-in-picture modes -- one that compares the widescreen and standard versions and one that assesses "The Robe's" historical accuracy.

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