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New on DVD: 'Hereafter'

Also being released are "The Fighter," "The Switch" and "Sharktopus."

March 13, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Matt Damon in "Hereafter."
Matt Damon in "Hereafter." (Ken Regan / Warner Bros )

The Fighter

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $39.99

Newly minted Oscar winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo aren't the only reasons to see boxing drama "The Fighter." Director David O. Russell and producer-star Mark Wahlberg take a hackneyed premise — based on the real-life story of Micky Ward, who overcame a meddling mother and a drug-addicted brother to become the welterweight champion — and imbue it with a dynamic look and naturalistic feel. Bale and Leo have the showier roles as the brother and the mother, and they definitely earn their accolades, but Wahlberg gives the film a soulful center, complemented by Amy Adams as the barmaid who pushes him to be his own man. The star, like the movie, is easy to root for. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a commentary track by the ever-opinionated Russell, plus deleted scenes and featurettes.

Hereafter

Warner, $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

One of the oddest films of Clint Eastwood's directorial career, "Hereafter" stars Matt Damon as a spiritualist who can communicate with the dead (though he prefers not to) and Cécile de France as a journalist who has a near-death experience during a tsunami and begins to investigate the afterlife. The movie follows those characters separately as well as a young British boy who's mourning his dead twin, then brings them all together at the end through a series of coincidences. (Or are they?) "Hereafter" is so low-key and straightforward that it can come off as stodgy, but give it credit: This isn't your "everyday guy who talks to ghosts meets gal who almost drowned in a natural disaster" movie. The DVD and Blu-ray add a comprehensive set of featurettes.

The Switch

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

It's always a pleasure to see the very funny Jason Bateman get a leading role in a movie. The former "Arrested Development" star brings all his deadpan neurotic charm to "The Switch," playing an uptight yuppie who secretly replaces the donor sperm his best friend is planning to use to get pregnant with his own. But Jennifer Aniston is unconvincing as the friend, and the movie's tone — orchestrated by co-directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck and screenwriter Allan Loeb, working from a Jeffrey Eugenides short story — tries to apply restraint to a wacky rom-com premise, resulting in a comedy that's neither funny nor believable. The DVD and Blu-ray add a pair of equally dreary deleted scenes and a joyless 15-minute featurette.

Sharktopus

Anchor Bay, $19.98; Blu-ray, $24.99

When U.S. Army scientists develop a hybrid of a shark and an octopus — with bulletproof skin, no less — how could they have possibly anticipated that the experiment would go awry? Produced by exploitation legend Roger Corman as one of Syfy Channel's campy "originals," "Sharktopus" is every bit as dumb as you think it will be but not quite as much fun as its creators think it is. It's tailor-made for DVD and Blu-ray though, as viewers can skip the dull exposition and get straight to the sharktopus-in'. The disc includes a Corman commentary track, which is an unexpected treat.

And...

"Au Revoir les Enfants" (Criterion Blu-ray, $39.95); "Hemingway's Garden of Eden" (Lionsgate, $19.98); "Who Do You Think You Are?: Season One" (Acorn, $39.99); "The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest" (Virgil, $19.99; Blu-ray, $28.99)

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