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New on DVD: 'In a Better World'

Also reviewed: 'Madea's Big Happy Family,' 'Prom' and 'Skateland'

August 28, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Mikael Persbrandt and Trine Dyrholm in "Conflicted."
Mikael Persbrandt and Trine Dyrholm in "Conflicted." (Per Arnesen, Sony Pictures…)

In a Better World

Sony Blu-ray, $45.99

Best foreign-language feature film Oscar winner "In a Better World" stars Mikael Persbrandt as a doctor who splits time between the horrors of Sudanese refugee camps and a home life in Denmark that's fairly unsettled too. Director Susanne Bier and screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen tell the story of the doctor and his family carefully, addressing the larger themes of how violence begets violence in subtle ways. As is usually the case with Bier and Jensen's films, "In a Better World" is a little too dour — not everything in life has to connect back to war and pain — but on the whole, the movie is gripping and moving. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a Bier commentary track, plus a Bier interview and deleted scenes.

Madea's Big Happy Family

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Writer-director-producer-star Tyler Perry brings back his beloved truth-telling grandma Madea in "Madea's Big Happy Family," a comedy-drama that's heavier on the latter than the former. In this installment, Madea's family is torn apart by cancer, crime and dark secrets, as the script follows the usual Perry formula of squabbling, crisis, reconciliation and comic relief. Fans of the series won't have much to complain about here, but there's nothing special enough to entice new viewers. Not much special about the special features on the DVD and Blu-ray either, which are limited to a quartet of puffy featurettes.

Prom

Walt Disney/Buena Vista, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

If viewers can accept the premise that high school prom is some kind of unifying, empowering event in every young person's life, they might be able to at least tolerate "Prom," a teen romcom about preparing for the big dance. "Friday Night Lights'" Aimee Teegarden is likable as always as a senior class president who frets over getting the decorations done in time (while feuding with the bad boy who may actually be "the one"). But nothing in writer Katie Wech and director Joe Nussbaum's version of high school feels drawn from real life; it's all sitcom fumbling and fantasyland romance, none of which is crazy enough to be guilty-pleasure fun. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes, bloopers and featurettes.

Skateland

20th Century Fox, $22.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

The closing of a small-town Texas roller rink in 1983 provides the backdrop for writer-director Anthony Burns' debut feature "Skateland," a good-looking but shallow indie drama. Shiloh Fernandez plays a teenager trying to sort out his life in the wake of great loss, but Burns tends to soft-pedal the heavier parts of the film so he can get back to loading it up with '80s music and fashion. As teen flicks go, "Skateland" is more artful than Disney channel fare, but honestly, it's not much richer. The DVD and Blu-ray add deleted scenes.

And…

Forks Over Knives

Virgil, $24.99; Blu-ray, $29.99

If….

Criterion Blu-ray, $39.95

Nikita: The Complete First Season

Warner Bros., $59.98; Blu-ray, $69.97

The Perfect Host

Magnolia, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Police, Adjective

Zeitgeist, $29.99

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