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‘Batman Begins’ swoops onto DVD

Also new: ‘Land of the Dead,’ ‘Saw: Uncut Edition’ and ‘Lifeboat’
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Batman Begins”Holy home video, Batman. Along with this year’s hit revival of the Dark Knight’s adventures, “Batman Begins,” a rush of older titles emerge from the Bat Cave on DVD, including new editions of the four “Batman” feature films from 1989 to ’97. “Batman Begins” stars Christian Bale in the story of Batman’s genesis, from orphan boy to vengeful vigilante to caped crusader for justice. The film comes in a single DVD with just the movie or a two-disc set packed with featurettes examining Batman’s origins and the filmmakers’ approach to reinventing the character and his trappings for the 21st century. Behind-the-scenes segments focus on the hero’s fighting style, action sequences and the design of Gotham City, the Batsuit and the new Batmobile. The set comes with a 72-page comic book reproducing the original Batman story from 1939 and two others from the 1980s and ’90s that helped shape the approach to the latest movie. Also available in a boxed set are four new two-disc versions of Tim Burton’s “Batman” and “Batman Returns” and Joel Schumacher’s “Batman Forever” (with Val Kilmer) and “Batman & Robin” (with George Clooney). Each has commentary with the directors and a huge range of background segments. “Batman Begins” DVD set, $30.97; single DVD, $28.98; “Batman” anthology DVD set, $79.92; two-disc sets, $26.99 each. (Warner Bros.) Original theatrical review

Debuting in a two-disc set is “Batman: The Complete 1943 Movie Serial Collection,” containing all 15 installments of the cliffhanger series pitting Batman (Lewis Wilson) and Robin (Douglas Croft) against a mad scientist bent on destruction. DVD set, $29.95. (Sony)

“George Romero’s Land of the Dead”

Flesh-munching corpses wise up in the fourth installment of the horror saga from the filmmaker who created the modern zombie subgenre with “Night of the Living Dead.” Simon Baker, John Leguizamo, Asia Argento and Dennis Hopper lead the cast in this tale of haves and have-nots living in a walled city surrounded by legions of the walking dead, who continue to hunger for human flesh but show signs of evolving beyond mindless zombies. The DVD is available in the R-rated theatrical edition or an unrated director’s cut that adds a bit more gory footage. Writer-director Romero offers commentary, while the disc has deleted footage and a segment with the makers of the comic horror homage “Shaun of the Dead,” who have cameos as zombies in “Land of the Dead.” The unrated version has extra featurettes on grisly makeup and zombie effects. DVD, $29.98. (Universal) Original theatrical review

Also new to DVD is Romero’s 1970s cult flick “Season of the Witch,” a psychological thriller about a bored housewife’s plunge into an occult fantasy world. The disc also includes Romero’s 1971 film “There’s Always Vanilla,” a drama about a Vietnam veteran’s fling with an older woman. DVD extras include a documentary on Romero’s career. DVD, $19.98. (Anchor Bay)

“The Big Lebowski”The Dude abides again in a new DVD edition of Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1998 comedy featuring Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi and John Turturro in a tale of bowling fanatics, modern art, kidnapping and a rug that really ties the room together. The DVD has only a handful of extras, including a making-of featurette with interviews by the Coen brothers, behind-the-scenes photos by Bridges, an avid photographer, and a mildly amusing introduction spoofing the fine art of film preservation. Serious members of the Lebowski cult will want to shell out for the “Achiever’s Edition” gift set, which along with the DVD includes a set of photo cards from Bridges’ pictures, four drink coasters and a bowling towel. DVD, $19.98; Gift set, $49.98. (Universal)

TV on DVD:

“CSI: NY — The Complete First Season” — More fun with cadavers as the “Crime Scene Investigation” franchise expands to New York in this drama starring Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes as leaders of an ace forensics team. The seven-disc set has the first 24 episodes, with commentary from the show’s overseers on seven. DVD set, $65.99. (Paramount)

“Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season” — With an uncanny ability to disguise himself behind thick-rimmed eyeglasses, George Reeves stars as the Man of Steel in the 1950s TV series about the superhero from Krypton. The five-disc set has the first 26 episodes and the theatrical movie, “Superman and the Mole Men,” that launched the show. DVD set, $39.98. (Warner Bros.)

Other new releases:

“The Mask of Zorro” — With Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ “The Legend of Zorro” hitting theaters, their 1998 action hit arrives in a new DVD version. Banderas plays the masked swordsman who inherits the hero’s name from a mentor (Anthony Hopkins). The DVD has commentary with director Martin Campbell, deleted scenes and a sneak peek at the sequel. DVD, $19.94 (Sony)

“Saw: Uncut Edition” — A new unrated version of last year’s micro-budgeted horror hit comes to DVD as a prelude to the sequel, “Saw 2.” The DVD has commentary with director James Wan and his co-writer, Leigh Whannell, who also co-stars, plus the original short movie they used to pitch the project to Hollywood. DVD, $26.98. (Lions Gate)

“Tell Them Who You Are” — Filmmaker Mark Wexler spins the fascinating story of his dad, cinematographer Haskell Wexler (“American Graffiti,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”), in a documentary that’s both biography and autobiography as father and son undergo a powerful dance toward reconciliation on camera. DVD, $34.99. (ThinkFilm)

“Mad Hot Ballroom” — A crowd-pleasing documentary that examines the passion, the commitment, the camaraderie and the heartbreak of competitive dancers — all of them still in grade school. The film follows a group of fourth and fifth graders as they compete in rounds of New York City dance tournaments. DVD, $29.99. (Paramount)

“The Man With the Golden Arm” — After taking home an Academy Award for “From Here to Eternity,” Frank Sinatra solidified his acting reputation with his gritty turn as a junkie in Otto Preminger’s 1955 drama. The two-disc set has an archival interview with Sinatra and a conversation with composer Elmer Bernstein. DVD set, $24.99. (Hart Sharp)

“Lifeboat” — Alfred Hitchcock’s 1945 thriller features Tallulah Bankhead, Hume Cronyn and William Bendix in the story of survivors stuck in a lifeboat along with the captain of the Nazi U-boat that sunk their ship. Making its DVD debut, the film is accompanied by commentary with Hitchcock expert Drew Casper and a making-of featurette. DVD, $19.98. (20th Century Fox)