The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Warner Bros. - Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Peter Jackson
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish. Full cast + crew
There's a lot of extraneous talk that swirls around The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey regarding what is truly the final version of the movie. Is it 3D? 3D 48 fps? Is it the inevitable extended edition? That kind of talk just gets too distracting. Regardless of the tech specs and total running time, An Unexpected Journey is a filmmaking marvel and a remarkably entertaining adventure.
Will it stand the test of time as being as good and important as The Lord of the Rings? Maybe, maybe not, but in the here and now it's a spectacle-filled film that's satisfying, funny and thrilling.
Special Features: There's over 127 minutes of behind-the-scenes materials here, but they're all in the form of video blogs that were released online throughout the film's production, and as such they actually don't give as close an examination of the film as one would hope for. Still, if you haven't seen them, they're definitely worth watching.
Zero Dark Thirty - Sony - Blu-ray and DVD
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong. Full cast + crew
Those who went into Zero Dark Thirty expecting another adrenaline-packed movie like Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker may be a tad disappointed, but as long as you're not expecting this to be the action movie version of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, you'll be in the right mindset. ZDT doesn't pass judgment on any of the politics involved, and it doesn't set out to lull you to one side of the aisle or the other. Bigelow's extraordinary film is more concerned with painting a picture of how daunting this entire operation was from the beginning, and how it was only ever pulled off out of sheer stubbornness.
Of course, there are those thrilling moments. The final raid on bin Laden's compound is one of the most heart-pounding scenes of 2012, even though you know exactly how it's going to end. But overall this is a welcome change of pace for Bigelow, who shows she can handle the slower, more resonant side of things just as well as she can intense action.
Special Features: Unfortunately there's not a ton of extras here. There's about 30 minutes of material spread across four featurettes that take a look at how the film was made.
Other Notable Releases
Knocked Up is still a funny, charming movie about adults thrust into parenthood. This Is 40 is a kind of funny, kind of charming movie about parents who wish they could just be "normal" adults again. It's certainly not Judd Apatow's finest hour, and even as a parent I find it hard to relate to, but it has its moments and Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd are both enjoyable enough to carry it through the rough spots.
Also out this week: Rust and Bone, the new film from the French director of A Prophet, featuring a pair of incredible performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts; the Criterion Blu-ray of Terrence Malick's Badlands; the Oscar-winning Les Miserables; and the freaky-looking Shadow People starring Dallas Roberts.
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