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HOME THEATER : NEW THIS WEEK : Spock and Kirk, back on board

November 15, 2009|Noel Murray

Star Trek

Paramount, $29.99/$34.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Director J.J. Abrams and a team of writers demonstrate the proper way to revamp a franchise with their wildly entertaining "Star Trek," a thrilling summer blockbuster that captures the collegial spirit of the original TV series while tinkering with its underpinnings just enough to placate both newcomers and persnickety Trekkies. An exciting young cast -- top-lined by Chris Pine as a headstrong, twentysomething James T. Kirk and Zachary Quinto as a more-emotional-than-usual Mr. Spock -- romp through a galaxy- hopping story that involves ancient grudges, family ties and a poignant use of time travel. The DVD and Blu- ray come loaded with inside scoops for fans, courtesy of a commentary track, deleted scenes and hours of featurettes.


Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

The latest Sacha Baron Cohen comedy doesn't work as well as his left-field hit "Borat," for a number of reasons. Cohen and director Larry Charles' formula of putting an outrageous character in awkward real-world situations feels flatter and more contrived this time out, and Bruno himself -- a fashionista with a voracious sexual appetite -- isn't as endearing or inspired as Borat. Despite some funny scenes here and there, the movie is a disappointment -- less a ruthless satire of celebrity culture and pervasive homophobia than a mean-spirited clown act. The real highlight of the discs is an "enhanced commentary" track by Cohen and Charles, in which they occasionally pause the film to provide some interesting backstage skinny.


Magnolia, $26.98

Two nongay buddies challenge each other to make an amateur gay porn film in director Lynn Shelton's hilarious, truthful, semi-improvised comedy about young suburbanites desperately straining to cling to their disappearing college cool. Unlike most naturalistic indie films that try to capture the fleeting magic of rambling conversations, "Humpday" is well acted -- by Mark Duplass, Joshua Leonard and Alycia Delmore -- and has an evolving, purposeful plot that makes it slightly less edgy but decidedly more entertaining. The DVD adds a too-short (but insightful) featurette, two jovial commentary tracks and 20 minutes of final cut.


Universal, $29.98

"Oldboy"/"Lady Vengeance" director Park Chan-wook takes unexpected turns with this vampire movie that doubles as a mournful romance. Song Kang-ho plays a sensitive priest who volunteers to test a new vaccine, then dies, only to be resurrected as a vampire. Along the way he falls in love with a friend's wife, and the two embark on a tortured affair. Anyone expecting conventional horror thrills from "Thirst" (or the blood-spattered flash of Park's "vengeance trilogy") will likely be disappointed. This is a long, slow movie about the thin line between compassion and martyrdom, using vampirism as a metaphor for inconvenient human need. On its own terms, it's quite beautiful. The DVD has no special features.


All titles available Tuesday.

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