Anyone starting holiday shopping early will be able to find a variety of DVDs to give as gifts.
“Maleficent,” Grade (B-): Untold tale of the Disney villain. Angelina Jolie stars.
Jolie rules this film with a powerful acting grace accented by director Robert Stromberg’s film style that shifts from film noir to children’s comedy without a flinch. There’s just not enough fleshing out of the story to support these elements.
The villain of this film is the script by Linda Woolverton,, which promises Maleficent’s real story but delivers little more than a couple of variations on the original theme. Woolverton should have aggressively adapted the story to add something more original. The times when she does stretch, she falls so short it’s obvious this writing task exceeded her grasp
“Planes: Fire & Rescue,” Grade A-: When Dusty’s career looks to be over, he volunteers to fight fires. The combination of Dusty’s epic struggle, some dazzling visual effects and a fun bunch of characters makes this a fun family film.
It may be the simple fact that the sequel was always intended for the big screen and not a last-minute bump from a direct-to-DVD release, but every element of “Planes: Fire & Rescue” is much stronger than in the first film. Considering it took off from an entertaining place, this is one sequel that flies rings around the original offering.
“The Sopranos,” Grade A: There once was a time on television when it was easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys. But television bad guys changed because of this series.
No one personified the new television bad guy more than Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), who headlines the critically acclaimed HBO series. You can see all of his good and evil clearly as the entire series is released in one Blu-ray set.
One reason the series is so strong is because of its setting: the average-looking New Jersey suburban family clashes with the organized-crime world of murder and extortion. Take away the mob connection and Tony Soprano would be just another TV dad unable to cope with parenting.
It is still one of the best series in TV history.
Also new on DVD Nov. 4:
“The Newsroom: The Complete Second Season”:Aaron Sorkin’s look inside a cable newsroom. Jeff Daniels stars.
“Reno 911!: Complete Uncensored Series”: Includes six seasons of the comedy series.
“Hercules”: Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) has to defeat a tyrannical warlord.
“Rio 2 Sing Along”: You can sing-along with your favorite characters.
“The Dog”: Story of man behind bank robbery that inspired the film “Dog Day Afternoon.”
“Hill Street Blues: Season Three”: Features 22 episodes from the Emmy Award-winning drama.
“A Most Wanted Man”: Illegal immigrant gets caught in an international war on terror.
“White Collar”: Season Five”: Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) must deal with a new handler.
“Impractical Jokers: The Complete Second Season”: Three-disc set includes 26 episodes.
“Sgt. Bilko/The Phil Silvers Show: The Complete Series”: Military comedy that ran from 1955-1959.
“World War One Collection”: Included are four BBC productions.
“Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 13”: These are the final TV cases for the sleuth.
“Little House On The Prairie: A Merry Ingalls Christmas”: Two episodes of the TV series that look at the holidays.
“Worst Friends”: Prankster must depend on childhood friend after car accident.
“The Doctor and the Devils”: Timothy Dalton stars in this horror film from director Freddie Francis.
“Sherlock: The Complete Seasons 1-3 Limited Edition Gift Set”: Includes the three seasons of the modern take on the noted detective.
“An Evergreen Christmas”: Woman returns home to face a massive debt. Robert Loggia stars.
“Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer”: Young deer turns difference into a major strength. Fiftieth anniversary of the TV special.
“Garfield Holiday Collection”: Five TV specials starring the talking cat are on this DVD.
“Step Up All In”: Ryan Guzman stars in this latest offering in the dance competition series.
“A Belle for Christmas”: Dean Cain stars in this tale of how a new puppy helps a family.
“The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story”: Follows six young, unknown actors thrust into the Hollywood spotlight.
“Frontera”: After crossing the border illegally, a man is accused of murder.
“Perry Mason - Double Features 7-9”: Each DVD includes two courtroom battles.
“Merlin: The Complete Series”: Includes five seasons of adventures in Camelot.
“A Christmas Gift”: John Denver stars in this holiday film.