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DVD reviews: ‘Rambo,’ ‘Cassandra’s Dream’

Also new: ‘Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything,’ ‘Grace is Gone’
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Rambo”After years of flops, Sylvester Stallone worked his way back into audiences’ graces by reprising one of his iconic characters in “Rocky Balboa,” then fell out again by resurrecting another, John Rambo, in this savagely violent jungle tale. With an outrageous body count, the movie co-written and directed by Stallone revisits his Vietnam vet Rambo, now trying to live a quiet life in Thailand but drawn into the fray again to rescue naive American missionaries captured by military thugs in Myanmar. Available in a single-disc DVD, a two-disc DVD set and a two-disc Blu-ray high-definition release, the movie is accompanied by deleted scenes, commentary from Stallone and half a dozen behind-the-scenes segments about reviving Rambo, the movie’s music, the weapons and other topics. Single DVD, $29.95.; DVD set, $34.98; Blu-ray set, $39.99. (Lionsgate) Read the review

“Cassandra’s Dream”

Image: Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell in The Weinstein Company's Cassandra's Dream.
Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell in The Weinstein Company's Cassandra's Dream - 2007

Woody Allen’s latest also is one of his darkest, reviving some of the grim themes of murder, guilt and strained fraternal bonds that he previously examined in 1989’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell star as working-class British brothers — one with ambitious dreams, the other with modest aspirations — who are presented with the means to overcome obstacles in their lives by a sinister offer from their rich uncle (Tom Wilkinson). As with all films by Allen, who prefers to let his stories stand on their own without any glimpses into how they were made, the DVD comes with just the film and no extras. DVD, $24.95. (Genius) Read the review

“The Thief of Bagdad”Producer Alexander Korda’s 1940 classic, whose directing team included British master Michael Powell, was ahead of its time with its ravishing color and visual effects. A fantasy inspired by “The Arabian Nights,” the film follows the exploits of a prince (John Justin) who is reduced to a blind beggar by an evil magician (Conrad Veidt), the outcast royal finding an unlikely ally in a wily young thief (Sabu). Highlights among the many extras in the two-disc set include commentary with Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, a documentary on the visuals featuring such special-effects experts as Ray Harryhausen and Dennis Muren, excerpts from Powell’s audio dictation for his autobiography and a propaganda film for the British effort in World War II produced by Korda. DVD set, $39.95. (Criterion)

TV on DVD:

“Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything” — A nine-disc set collects the entire 36-episode, five-season run — plus three specials — featuring Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders in the British comedy series about two outrageously fashion-minded pals and substance abusers. Extras include commentary with Saunders, who wrote the show, and executive producer Jon Plowman, a behind-the-scenes segment and the skit from the comedy show “French and Saunders” that was the basis for the show. DVD set, $129.98. (BBC)

“Lipstick Jungle: Season One” — Coinciding with the theatrical release of “Sex and the City” is year one of this series based on the novel by Candace Bushnell, whose fiction also was the basis for “Sex and the City.” Brooke Shields, Kim Raver and Lindsay Price star as New York gal pals coping with career, family and romance. The two-disc set has the first seven episodes, plus deleted scenes. DVD set, $29.98. (Universal)

“Gunsmoke: The Second Season, Volume 2” — James Arness is back on the job as TV’s favorite Old West lawman, Matt Dillon, joined by co-stars Amanda Blake, Dennis Weaver and Milburn Stone. The first 19 episodes from season two of the long-running Western come in a three-disc set. DVD set, $39.99. (Paramount)

“Rawhide: The Third Season, Volume 1” — The Western that gave Clint Eastwood his big break returns with a four-disc set packing the first 15 episodes from year three of the show following a team of cowpokes on the range. DVD set, $42.99. (Paramount)

“The Color Honeymooners: Collection 3” — Jackie Gleason and Art Carney reprise their classic ’50s characters Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton with these installments from Gleason’s 1960s variety show. A three-disc set has 12 episodes. DVD set, 39.98. (MPI)

“The Grand: Complete Collection” — This British series from the late 1990s follows the schemes and dramas of the well-to-do proprietors and the working-class staff at a luxury hotel in 1920s Manchester. A five-disc set has all 18 episodes. DVD set, $59.99. (Acorn)

Other new releases:

“Grace Is Gone” — John Cusack delivers one of his finest performances as a father who receives awful news — his wife has been killed in action in Iraq — and puts off telling his two young daughters, taking them on a road trip to an amusement park instead. The DVD features a conversation with Cusack and writer-director James Strouse. DVD, $28.95. (Genius) Read the review

“The Walker” — Woody Harrelson stars as a socialite pal of the wives of key American leaders in Washington, D.C., who finds himself a sudden pariah and suspect in a criminal scandal. The cast includes Lauren Bacall, Kristin Scott Thomas, Ned Beatty and Lily Tomlin. DVD, $27.98. (ThinkFilm)

“The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Two — 1937-1939” — The chronological release of the Stooges’ comedy shorts continues with this two-disc set packing 24 films. Among the colorfully titled shorts are “Goofs and Saddles,” “Three Missing Links,” “Mutts to You” and “Healthy, Wealthy and Dumb.” DVD set, $24.96. (Sony)