New releases on DVD, Blu-ray
Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows."
Updated: October 8, 2012 8:45AM
NEW THIS WEEK
“Dark Shadows” ★★★½
Rated: PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking
Stars: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green
Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Tim Burton’s thoroughly enjoyable “Dark Shadows” makes it seem swingin’ to be a vampire. Depp apparently worshipped Barnabas (from the ’60s Gothic horror romance soap opera) as a kid and that’s evident in this loving, occasionally hilarious, tongue-in-cheek adaptation. After surviving the curse of a jealous lover/very-wicked witch (who turned him into a neck-biter then buried him alive for 200 years), Barnabas returns to restore the fortunes of his very dysfunctional descendants, and milk cultural contrasts for all the comedy they’re worth — while Burton supplies all the necessary dark, shadowy mood.
“In The Mood For Love” ★★★½
Rated: PG for thematic elements and brief language
Stars: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung
Undoubtedly one of the most achingly romantic, erotically charged movies ever made about a passionate affair that never quite takes place. Hong Kong stars Cheung and Leung (who won the Best Actor prize at Cannes) are featured as residents of a cramped Hong Kong rooming house circa 1962, who learn that their respective spouses have been having an affair. Instead of immediately seeking mutual revenge with each other, however, they fall slowly, langorously, torturously in love — and think about it at length and in excruciating, though sumptuously beautiful, detail. Not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of director Wong Kar Wai (“Happy Together,” “Days of Being Wild”) or if you’re just crazy about love in general, this ultra-stylish fever dream is definitely worth a look. This Criterion Collection release features a new high-definition restoration, deleted scenes and Wai’s own documentary on the making of the film.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK
“Downton Abbey Seasons One & Two”
In celebration of the launching of season three, PBS has released a limited-edition gift-box set of the first two seasons of the British World War I-era drama about a wealthy family and its servants.
“Peace, Love And Misunderstanding”
An uptight New York lawyer (Catherine Keener) reluctantly takes her two teenage kids for a visit to her hippie mother (Jane Fonda). Bruce Beresford (“Tender Mercies”) directed the comedy.
“People Like Us”
After his father dies, a young man (Chris Pine) has to deliver an inheritance to a sister (Elizabeth Banks) he has never known. Screenwriter Alex Kurtzman (“Cowboys and Aliens”) makes his directorial debut with the drama. Extras include commentary with Kurtzman, Pine and Banks and deleted scenes.
“Pet Semetary” Blu-ray Debut
The deceased family pet becomes a big family problem in director Mary Lambert’s ultra-scary adaptation of the Stephen King novel. Extras include commentary by Lambert and a guided tour of the locations led by King.
“The Princess Bride” 25th Anniversary Blu-ray
Director Rob Reiner’s charming deconstruction of a fairy-tale adventure celebrates its silver anniversary with this Blu-ray release. Extras include a two-part documentary examination of the ongoing popularity of the film plus commentary by Reiner and screenwriter William Goldman.
“Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection”
This eight-disc box set features digitally restored Blu-ray special editions of “Dracula,” “Frankenstein,” “The Mummy,” “The Invisible Man,” “The Bride of Frankenstein,” “The Wolf Man, “The Phantom of the Opera” and “The Creature of the Black Lagoon” (including a 3D-version). Extras include more than 12 hours of bonus features plus a collectible book.
“The Avengers” ★★★½
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence throughout, and a mild drug reference
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston
Writer/director Joss Whedon (TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) delivers all the spectacular action a summer-movie audience could possibly hope for with this much-anticipated Marvel superhero extravaganza —and he does it with intelligence and humor to spare. The comic book dream team of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk are called upon to save the world, not unsurprisingly, from an alien invasion led by Thor’s petulant half-brother Loki (Hiddleston). The only really surprising thing is how funny things get from time to time — with the biggest yuks provided by Big Mean Green. Extras include commentary by Whedon, a gag reel and deleted scenes.
“The War Of The Roses” ★★★½
Stars: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito
Director DeVito plays a divorce lawyer relating this bitterly funny and occasionally more-than-a-little disturbing nightmare of marital mayhem as a cautionary tale to a prospective client. Seventeen years after beginning their marriage as the perfect couple, Oliver and Barbara Rose (Douglas and Turner) have nothing left for each other but spite and an equally hell-bent determination to become soul owner of their dream house. DeVito orchestrates the tension masterfully as each tries to drive the other away with increasingly outrageous attacks, and he doesn’t back away when the battle seems to be escalating out of control. The film’s final, bitter gesture is one that’s likely to linger. Extras include commentary by DeVito, deleted scenes and a production gallery.
AVAILABLE NEXT WEEK
The Beatles 1967 “Magical Mystery Tour” hits the comeback trail, Hitchcock takes a walk on the strange side in the Blu-ray debut of “Strangers on a Train” and “E.T.” phones home in style in its Blu-ray debut.