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The Pacific (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

While this HBO miniseries had a couple of clunker episodes, overall, it was another great war epic from executive producers Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks (who were also responsible for Band of Brothers). It's a 10-episode winner featuring stunning re-creations of World War II battles with Japan.

Joseph Mazzello, who was a child actor in Spielberg's Jurassic Park, is especially good as an enlisted soldier who goes to war with the best of intentions, but learns he has a very dark aspect to his personal makeup. Jon Seda is also memorable as a war hero who opts to return to the battlefield rather than live the good life touring America and selling war bonds.

This is a great companion piece to Band of Brothers, and further proof that HBO is the leader in original TV programming.

SPECIAL FEATURES: You get profiles of the real Marines featured in the series, a making-of documentary and a historical documentary on the war. You also get field guides and enhanced viewing for each episode, offering in-depth, picture-in-picture details of the events being covered on the show.

Winter's Bone (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

Relative newcomer Jennifer Lawrence is a legitimate Oscar contender due to her performance as Ree Dolly, a young woman searching for her criminal father in her Ozark neighborhood. She's heartbreakingly good in this haunting film, an excellent effort from director and co-writer Debra Granik.

Now would be a good time to try to generate some Oscar buzz for John Hawkes, who is alternately terrifying and touching as Ree's Uncle Teardrop, a man who strikes out like a venomous snake in one moment, and goes the distance to protect his kin in the next. Hawkes is one of those actors with a familiar face who probably doesn't have great name recognition. More people will remember his name after seeing this one.

Lawrence is playing Mystique in next X-Men movie, so her great work here is already paying dividends. Now let's see her get some nominations in a couple of months.

SPECIAL FEATURES: A director's commentary, a making-of featurette, some deleted scenes and an alternate opening.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

This box-office bomb was a lot of fun, and I'm getting sick and tired of people piling up on Michael Cera for being Michael Cera. Yes, he has a shtick—as do many others who currently call themselves "actor." I think his frail, nervous act is entertaining, and never one-note. His work here as the title character is sweet, funny and ultimately ass-kickingly good.

Cera plays a rock-star wannabe who must battle the seven evil exes of his current girlfriend (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the best of which is played by Brandon Routh. Routh's character tries, and fails, to take out Scott with his vegan powers; Routh proves to be very funny in the role.

Directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), the film is silly, airy and enjoyable. However, this Blu-ray needs to sell like hotcakes for Universal to make back some of the movie's $60 million budget. (The film only grossed a little more than $45 million worldwide.) Kudos to Wright for enlisting help from Beck, Nigel Godrich and Broken Social Scene for the soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Deleted scenes, bloopers, making-ofs, commentaries and much more.

Toy Story 3: 4-Disc Combo Pack (Blu-ray)





(OUT OF 10)

The supposed final chapter in Pixar's gem of a franchise is every bit as entertaining as the first two chapters. Woody (the voice of Tom Hanks) tries to keep the toys together as their owner, Andy, takes off for college. A trash-bag mishap leads to their temporary imprisonment at a day-care center, where kids roughly play with them—and nefarious toys target them for sacrifice.

One thing that is so very noticeable here is how far Pixar has come in depicting human characters. If you go back and watch the first two films, Pixar hadn't quite nailed the look of human beings. That has changed in this installment; Andy and the rest of the humans are looking good.

If this is the end for the toy crew, then it is a fitting finale. Considering that the film made somewhere north of $400 million, I would be surprised if we never saw Woody and Buzz Lightyear again. Perhaps Disney and Pixar will find something else to do with them somewhere down the road.

SPECIAL FEATURES: The package comes with a Blu-ray version and a special-features disc, plus DVD and digital copies of the movie. You get the wonderful Day and Night short that played before the feature in theaters, plus multiple commentary tracks, and plenty of storyboards and other behind-the-scenes material.


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