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New on DVD: 'Super 8'

November 20, 2011|By Noel Murray, Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney in "Super 8."
Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney in "Super 8." (Paramount Pictures )

Super 8

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $44.99

There hasn't been a Hollywood movie yet this year with a better first hour than "Super 8." J.J. Abrams' sci-fi/actioner about teenage filmmakers in late-'70s Ohio understands how kids relate to each other and how much fun it can be to gather with friends and make something. All of this comes through in the early scenes of likable young folks shooting a zombie movie in and around their small town. "Super 8" loses some of its specialness in its second hour — when the amateur Spielbergs discover that an alien has been abducting their neighbors — but the spirit of camaraderie and youthful adventure never dims. This is a heartfelt, heartwarming entertainment. The DVD and Blu-ray add a 90-minute making-of documentary, nearly 15 minutes of deleted scenes and a commentary track.

Conan the Barbarian

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $37.99/$39.99

Robert E. Howard's legendary shirtless, sword-wielding antihero returns to the big screen in director Marcus Nispel's not-bad/not-great adaptation. Beginning with the warrior as a boy, "Conan the Barbarian" attempts to tell a sweeping, ultra-violent story about the efforts of Conan (Jason Momoa) to thwart the world-domination schemes of the warlord who slaughtered his people. The movie is true to the blood-soaked pulpiness of the original Howard stories (as well as to the comics, films and Frank Frazetta paintings that followed), but that faithfulness means that this "Conan" is oppressively dark and heavy. Fans of the series will find a lot to like here; newcomers might feel shut out. The DVD and Blu-ray does offer some help to the newbies, via two commentary tracks and history-oriented featurettes.

Sarah's Key

Anchor Bay/Weinstein, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Based on a bestselling Tatiana de Rosnay novel, "Sarah's Key" stars Kristin Scott Thomas as a journalist who finds a story on her own doorstep when her husband inherits an apartment that was involved in an infamous 1942 incident, in which French authorities surrendered Jewish residents of Paris to the Nazis. The film bounces back and forth between one young girl's direct experience of the "Vel' d'Hiv Roundup" and Thomas' search for that girl's surviving family. It's a finely crafted drama, involving and — for non-Europeans especially — informative. The DVD and Blu-ray add a brief featurette.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World

Anchor Bay/Weinstein, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.98

The fourth installment of writer-director Robert Rodriguez's super-successful "Spy Kids" franchise is ostensibly a reboot, introducing two new youngsters who discover that their family has ties to a secret crime-fighting organization. But what was once a fun intersection of Rodriguez's DIY gumption and the anything-goes vibe of kids' movies has become tired and even desperate, as Rodriguez relies more and more on gross-out gags. Some of the wit and imagination of the first film persists, but not enough to recommend watching this "Spy Kids" over any of the ones that came before. The DVD/Blu-ray special features consist of deleted scenes, featurettes and a Rodriguez interview.

And…

The Devil's Double

Lionsgate, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

The L Word: The Complete Series

Showtime, $129.98

Making the Boys

First Run, $27.95

Three Amigos

HBO Blu-ray, $14.98

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