New DVDs: ‘Pan’s Labyrinth,’ ‘Fountain’

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/ Source: The Associated Press
By By David Germain

“Pan’s Labyrinth”Writer-director Guillermo del Toro crafts his masterpiece, a visual marvel whose creepy, startling images are matched by a dark, wondrous story filled with suspense, drama, brutality, compassion and pathos. The chilling fairy tale follows a young girl (Ivana Baquero) who encounters monsters in her real life in 1940s fascist Spain and in a strange fantasy world where an ancient forest faun charges her with daunting tasks. The film comes as a single DVD or in a two-disc set that offers a huge range of interview and graphic segments providing details on the film and its fantastical creatures. In a short DVD introduction, del Toro describes the emotional and physical toll of making the film: “This movie almost destroyed me, almost killed me. And it took away 45 pounds of my body. Many sleepless nights, and a lot of love. I hope you enjoy it and get lost in it.” Del Toro offers a detailed accounting of the inspiration for the film and the struggle to make it in audio commentary. Single DVD, $28.98; two-disc set, $34.99. (New Line) Read the review

“Stomp the Yard”

In this photo provided by Screem Gems, Columbus Short (far right) as DJ and Chris Brown (right center) as Duron in "Stomp the Yard." (AP Photo/Screen Gems/Alfeo Dixon)Alfeo Dixon / SCREEN GEMS

College freshmen inevitably find themselves lured into fierce dance competitions among dueling fraternities. This street-stepper-makes-good tale stars Columbus Short as a newbie on campus whose underground moves freshen up the college dance scene, where he learns to channel his raw and angry form into teamsmanship as he helps his crew battle for the national step championship. The DVD comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette, commentary with the filmmakers, two extended dance sequences, a gag reel and a deleted scene. DVD, $28.95; Blu-ray disc, $38.96. (Sony) Read the review

“The Fountain”

Cheating death might not be all that fun, if Darren Aronofsky’s visually striking but dramatically inert tale is any sign. A combination of historical pageantry, contemporary drama and futuristic fantasy, the film ripples with ideas and possibilities yet also is smothered in pretension. Hugh Jackman stars as a man whose story plays out in three eras as he plays a 16th century Spanish conquistador, a medical researcher in modern times and an explorer of the heavens in the 26th century, his long life dedicated to preserving the life and memory of his woman (Rachel Weisz). The DVD contains about an hour’s worth of background featurettes on the movie’s themes and production. Along with a standard-DVD release, the film is available in a high-definition Blu-ray disc and a combination disc with high-definition HD DVD and standard-DVD formats. DVD, $27.95; Blu-ray disc, $34.99; HD DVD combo disc, $39.99. (Warner Bros.) Read the review

“Becket”Richard Burton is torn between God and the king of England, who both want to be his best friend in the 1964 historical drama making its debut on DVD. The one-two punch of Burton and co-star Peter O’Toole led to a rare Academy Awards honor as both men were nominated for best actor. Burton plays Thomas Becket, friend, adviser and partying pal of King Henry II (O’Toole), who tries to put the Roman Catholic church under his thumb by appointing his buddy as archbishop of Canterbury. But their old friendship turns deadly when Becket takes the job seriously, embraces God and resists the king’s authority. O’Toole provides commentary, and the DVD features vintage interviews with Burton. DVD, 24.98. (MPI)

“Army of Shadows”Previously unreleased in the United States, Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 saga of the French Resistance in World War II finally debuted in U.S. theaters to welcoming raves from critics last year. Starring Lino Ventura, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Simon Signoret, the film presents a realistic portrait of the everyday fears, dangers and betrayals hanging over the heads of underground fighters battling the Nazis. The two-disc set has on-set archival interviews and footage of Melville, the actors and others, a documentary segment on the director and a vintage film shot in the closing days of Germany’s occupation of France. DVD set, $39.95. (Criterion)

TV on DVD:

“ER: The Complete Seventh Season” — Turmoil in the doctors’ personal lives matches the mayhem of the emergency room as the long-running medical drama continues. A six-disc set packs all 22 episodes from year seven. DVD set, $49.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Frasier: The Ninth Season” — Kelsey Grammer returns for more psychoanalysis among listeners on his call-in show and among his circle of goofy friends and relations. Year nine’s 23 episodes come in a four-disc set. DVD set, $42.99. (Paramount)

“Home Improvement: The Complete Sixth Season” — Tim Allen balances family time and tool time in the sit-com about a do-it-yourself TV host. Season six’s 25 episodes are contained in a three-disc set. DVD set, $23.99. (Disney)

“Wings: The Fourth Season” — The siblings (Tim Daly and Steven Weber) running a small Nantucket air service are back in the sit-com whose cast includes Tony Shalhoub and Thomas Haden Church. The four-disc set has year four’s 22 episodes. DVD set, $42.99. (Paramount)

“Martin: The Complete Second Season” — Martin Lawrence and his gang of lovable kooks deliver more over-the-top comedy with a four-disc set that has all 27 episodes from year two of his sit-com. DVD set, $29.98. (HBO)

“M*A*S*H: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” — The Korean War finally ends after 11 seasons for the folks at the 4077th M*A*S*H. This three-disc set presents the series finale plus six hours of behind-the-scenes material. DVD set, $29.98. (20th Century Fox)

“The War at Home: The Complete First Season” — Michael Rappaport leads the cast in this domestic sit-com about a couple locked in endless battle for control with their three teenage kids. The first 22 episodes come in a three-disc set. DVD set, $39.98. (Warner Bros.)

Other new releases:

“Seraphim Falls” — Three years after the Civil War, Pierce Brosnan’s an ex-Union officer whose attempt to make a new life out West is interrupted by Liam Neeson, a former Confederate colonel who aims to hunt him down. Brosnan joins the filmmakers on DVD commentary. DVD, $26.96. (Sony) Read the review

“Arthur and the Invisibles” — Madonna, David Bowie and Robert De Niro are among the voice cast for this combination of live-action and computer animation about a boy’s adventures among the tiny creatures living in his grandma’s backyard. The DVD includes a handful of featurettes. DVD, $28.95. (Genius) Read the review