Sony, $28.96; Blu-ray, $39.95
It takes too long for director Roland Emmerich's disaster epic "2012" to get out of first gear, but once the Earth begins to crumble, the destruction comes fast and furious. John Cusack stars as a science fiction writer racing to get his family to safety, but the plot of "2012" matters less than the relentless scenes of characters running, driving, flying and boating just ahead of explosions and tsunamis. Even those who pick up "2012" looking to see world-ending mayhem may get bored with all the rubble. If so, they can always switch over to the DVD bonus features, which include an Emmerich commentary track, deleted scenes and a featurette. The Blu-ray adds more featurettes, many about the Mayan prophecies illustrated in the film.
Disney, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99
On the continuum of Hayao Miyazaki movies, "Ponyo" falls halfway between the gentle, kid-friendly "My Neighbor Totoro" and the wildly fantastical "Spirited Away," and while it's not a masterpiece on the order of those two, it's duly charming and imaginative. Ostensibly about a goldfish who longs to be a human, "Ponyo" is more about the funky seaside village where the action takes place, and the awesome sight of water rising to reclaim the land. It's typical Miyazaki: driven by the kind of dream-like imagery and incident that makes the most sense to little kids and open-minded adults. The "Ponyo" DVD and Blu-ray come with featurettes that explore Miyazaki's hands-on approach to animation.
Shout! Factory, $19.99
Back in 1979, Halloween director John Carpenter took a break from thrillers with the two-part, three-hour TV miniseries "Elvis," starring Kurt Russell as rock icon Elvis Presley. "Elvis" was a ratings smash and boosted Russell's career, and even now it holds up as a fine piece of American myth-making, tracing the singer's rise from hardscrabble youth to Vegas triumph (ending before his decline and death). The DVD set comes with a vintage making-of promotional film, some excerpts from an "American Bandstand" Elvis special, and a chummy commentary track by a Presley biographer and Russell's singing stand-in.
The Beaches of Agnès
The Cinema Guild, $29.95
Agnès Varda's cine-essay "The Beaches of Agnès" starts with a return to the site and characters from her 1954 debut film "La Pointe Courte," then jumps from one Varda memory to another, recalling her adventures in the French New Wave and political activism. The movie is a digression built on a digression, and thus may be a little hard to follow for people who aren't already familiar with Varda's biography, but even neophytes should be charmed by the filmmaker's puckish wit.
20th Century Fox, $19.97
20th Century Fox, $19.98
20th Century Fox, $27.98; Blu-ray, $39.99
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Screen Media, $27.98; Blu-ray, $29.98
Tell Them Anything You Want: A Portrait of Maurice Sendak
We Live in Public