The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

January 27, 2011

DVD Picks

Pick of the Week

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

Supernatural romantic drama; rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, and some sensuality; also available on Blu-ray

The Gist: In the third installment of the spooky teen saga, eternally indecisive Bella Swan must finally make her choice between shirtless werewolf Jacob or sullen vampire Edward.

The Lowdown: The Twilight saga has clearly struck a chord in the contemporary teenage heart, and who are we to judge? The nice thing is that the films, like the books they’re based on, can be enjoyed on a few different levels.

If you want, you can read a lot of allegory into all the blood and guts and body hair issues. “Twilight” basically turns teenage emotional trauma literal – your boyfriend, in these stories, might actually rip your heart out. Or horror movie fans can just sit back and enjoy the updates to vampire and werewolf mythology.

The Extras: Audio commentaries with stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and author Stephanie Meyer; deleted and extended scenes; six-part making-of doc; some music videos and a handy option for Team Edward and Team Jacob to jump directly to their respective scenes.

The Bottom Line: Much better than it’s strictly required to be as a teen entertainment franchise, “Eclipse” is generous and occasionally scary.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: “Eclipse” has several fun flashback sequences concerning the fate of vampires during the American Revolution, say, or the Civil War.

Fantasia/Fantasia 2000: Special Edition

Animation; rated G; also available on Blu-ray

The Gist: Disney packages the 1940 original and the 1999 “sequel” with fully integrated extras, both new and old.

The Lowdown: The original “Fantasia” broke all manner of artistic and technological ground upon release, and in fact was considered quite avant-garde for its time. The “Fantasia 2000” release follows the same basic template – gorgeous animations mapped to classical music compositions, introduced this time around by a sampling of celebrities including Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones and Bette Midler.

The Extras: The DVD/Blu-ray combo pack features four discs with both films in each format, plus several audio commentaries from the vaults and assorted mini-docs.

The Bottom Line: “Fantasia” still astounds, 70 years later, even capturing the attention of our two-year-old for several minutes in sequence, which just does not happen.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: Most notable among the extras: The seven-minute short “Destino,” Walt Disney’s collaboration with Salvador Dali, along with a full-length documentary on the historic project.

Glee Season One: Gleek Gift Set

TV musical comedy; rated TV-14; holiday gift package

The Gist: TV’s breakout musical comedy hit gets a gift set re-release compiling all season one episodes with extras.

The Lowdown: With holiday gift-giving season upon us, it’s hard to argue with the Gleek Gift Set. It seems that every member of my family with a set of XX chromosomes is hooked on this show, for reasons I still don’t quite understand. But hey – ’tis the season of giving.

Keep in mind that you can rent or download the individual episodes via Netflix, Amazon and other online retailers. But knowing Glee fans, they’ll want the whole kaboodle, and this is the best deal out there.

The Extras: Generous and varied: Karaoke and jukebox modes; a dance tutorial; picture-in-picture commentary tracks; audition reels; about 12 different behind-the-scenes featurettes and a Glee journal, exclusive to the gift set.

The Bottom Line: The gift set is essentially the same as the $59.99 Complete First Season DVD, released in September, but with the bonus Glee journal and a lower price tag due to holiday sales.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: Inevitably, the TV series has spawned its own video game, Karaoke Revolution Glee (Wii; $59.99; Rated E10), which is already hard to find and selling for twice the suggested retail price online.

Quick Picks: Speaking of “Fantasia,” “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is an attempt to update the concept with Nicholas Cage and Jay Baruchel. It doesn’t really work, but kids and tweens will enjoy all the harmless nonsense. “Countdown to Zero” is a fairly terrifying documentary on nuclear arms in the age of terrorism, from the same team that brought us the feel-good belly buster “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Also New This Week: Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in “Knight and Day,” international tough guy Mads Mikkelsen in the Danish Viking saga “Valhalla Rising.”

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