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New on DVD

Horse-racing drama 'Luck,' 'ParaNorman' and 'Men in Black 3' are among the titles available.

November 24, 2012|By Noel Murray
  • Nick Nolte in the HBO series "Luck."
Nick Nolte in the HBO series "Luck." (Gusmano Cesaretti / HBO )

Luck: The Complete First Season

HBO, $59.99; Blu-ray, $79.98

The HBO horse-racing drama "Luck" was canceled after several animals died during the course of the production — which is unfortunate because of the loss of the horses and the loss of the show. A rich, rewarding story of the gamblers, gangsters and horse lovers who gather around a Los Angeles racetrack, "Luck" features a cast top-lined by Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte, dialogue overseen by creator David Milch, rivaling his best work as the steward of "Deadwood"; and a gorgeous, cinematic look established by Michael Mann, who directed the first episode. The nine-episode first season — now on DVD and Blu-ray — demands viewers' close attention and rewards it with a tale of shifting fortunes and deep passions.

ParaNorman

Universal, $29.98; Blu-ray, $34.98/$49.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

At once morbid and moving, the animated feature "ParaNorman" follows a weirdo kid who has the power to speak to the dead and tries to save his touristy, witch-obsessed Massachusetts small town from an ancient evil. At its core, "ParaNorman" is another in the unceasing string of family movies about adolescent (and pre-adolescent) misfits, and how they strive to be accepted on their own terms. But it's witty and spooky, making a strong thematic connection between prejudice and the undead — two entities that just keep coming back. Co-directors Sam Fell and Chris Butler contribute a commentary track to the DVD and Blu-ray, and guide viewers through several making-of featurettes.

Men in Black 3

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $40.99/$55.99

Available on VOD beginning Nov. 30

The "Men In Black" franchise is one of the strangest in all of blockbusterdom, and last summer's "Men in Black 3" is no exception, sending Will Smith's ice-cool Agent J back in time to prevent the murder of his partner Agent K (played in the present by Tommy Lee Jones and in the past by Josh Brolin doing an uncanny Jones impression). Director Barry Sonnenfeld has a ball reimagining New York City of 1969 as a place where the hippies are indistinguishable from space aliens, and even though the movie dead-ends into a predictable and sappy story about the mysteries of Agent J's childhood, "Men in Black 3" sports funny performances (including a soulful turn by Michael Stuhlbarg) and plenty of crazy ideas. The DVD and Blu-ray add featurettes.

Sparkle

Sony, $30.99; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Friday

Whitney Houston gives a memorable final screen performance as the strict, God-fearing mother of three wannabe pop star daughters in a remake of the 1976 cult musical "Sparkle." "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks plays the youngest of the girls who navigates family strife and the shrewd operators of Detroit show business circa 1968 (updated from late '50s Harlem in the original). The quality of the acting varies wildly, as does the quality of the soundtrack, which mixes Curtis Mayfield's songs from the '76 "Sparkle" with new R. Kelly tunes. But director Salim Akil brings brightness and energy, and it's a pleasure to see Houston. The DVD and Blu-ray contains an Akil commentary track, plus featurettes.

And…

The Apparition

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $29.98

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

The Day

Starz/Anchor Bay, $26.98; Blu-ray, $29.99

Lawless

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

Step Up: Revolution

Summit, $29.95; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Tuesday

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