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New DVDs: ‘Rocky Balboa,’ ‘Eragon’

Also new: ‘Blood Diamond,’ ‘The Nativity Story,’ season one of ‘Maude’
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Rocky Balboa”Who knew the Italian Stallion had any punch left in him? Sylvester Stallone knew, despite a previous string of declining sequels that reached a lowpoint with the cartoonish “Rocky V,” a flop that seemed certain to spell the end of the boxing franchise. Yet 16 years later, Stallone returned in modest triumph with this solid commercial success that presents an older, sadder, and maybe a little wiser Rocky who decides that one more return to the ring is just what he needs to assuage the grief and anger that has taken over his life. The DVD has seven deleted scenes and an alternate ending Stallone wisely shelved, as its boxing finale strains credibility even beyond the film’s notion of a 60-year-old holding his own against the world heavyweight champ. The disc has a couple of featurettes, while Stallone, who also wrote and directed, provides commentary. DVD, $28.95; Blu-ray disc, $38.96 (Sony) Read the review

“Blood Diamond”

Leonard DiCaprio and Djimon Hounsou earned Academy Award nominations for this action drama of savagery, greed, corruption and redemption set against the illicit gem trade and 1990s civil war in Sierra Leone. DiCaprio plays a mercenary adventurer who teams with a fisherman and family man (Hounsou) and a journalist (Jennifer Connelly) on a quest to find a rare pink diamond, whose recovery takes them on a bloody journey through the African countryside. The film comes in a single-disc DVD or a two-disc set with extras that include a featurette profiling DiCaprio and another centered on women at the front lines of journalism. Another segment examines the journey diamonds take from the mines to jewelry stores. Director Edward Zwick also offers commentary. Single DVD, $28.98; two-disc DVD set, $34.99. (Warner Bros.) Read the review

“Eragon”

Following in the footsteps of fellow Oscar winner Sean Connery, who was the voice of the beast in “Dragonheart,” Rachel Weisz is the mouthpiece for the dragon in this sword-and-sorcery adventure based on the first installment of author Christopher Paolini’s fantasy trilogy. The story follows Eragon (newcomer Ed Speleers), a farm boy who becomes the first of a new breed of dragon-riders, a near-extinct band of freedom fighters cruising around on the flying lizards battling for truth, justice and the Alagaesian way (they live in the mythical realm of Alagaesia, you see). The movie co-stars Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou and Robert Carlyle. “Eragon” is available in a single-disc release or a two-disc set that includes segments on casting, visual effects and other behind-the-scenes matters, deleted and extended scenes and commentary from director Stefen Fangmeier. Single DVD, $29.98; two-disc DVD set, $34.98; Blu-ray disc, $39.98. (20th Century Fox) Read the review

“The Nativity Story”

Christmas comes in March with this retelling of the original nativity tale, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Director Catherine Hardwicke presents an adaptation faithful to the scant New Testament descriptions of what went down that night and during the months leading up to it, the movie fleshing out the tale with some real visual flair but not enough drama to hold audience interest in such an overly familiar story. Keisha Castle-Hughes stars as Mary and Oscar Isaac plays Joseph, with Shohreh Aghdashloo co-starring as Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth. The DVD has widescreen and full-screen versions but is barren of other extras, perhaps a sign of a more definitive release around the holiday season. DVD, $28.98. (New Line) Read the review

“The Naked City”“Dragnet” and just about every other cop show in TV history owe a huge debt to this groundbreaking police procedural from 1948. Director Jules Dassin and news columnist and producer Mark Hellinger present a starkly neorealistic crime thriller that traces a New York City murder investigation step by step. Barry Fitzgerald, an Oscar winner for “Going My Way” and later the scene-stealing matchmaker in 1952’s “The Quiet Man,” stars as the detective in charge of the case. This definitive new DVD version has a restored digital transfer, commentary from “Naked City” co-writer Malvin Wald, footage of Dassin at a 2004 appearance and a segment on the film’s New York locations. DVD, $39.95. (Criterion)

“W.C. Fields Comedy Collection: Volume Two”A five-disc set packs five 1930s and ’40s comedy classics from the sly Fields. “You’re Telling Me” has Fields as an inventor marketing bulletproof car tires; “The Man on the Flying Trapeze” casts him as a forebear to Ferris Bueller, a man playing hooky from work only to have his life erupt in turmoil; “The Old Fashioned Way” puts Fields in the role of a wily theatrical manager; “Poppy” adapts Fields’ Broadway hit about a con artist peddling a girl as an heiress; and “Never Give a Sucker an Even Break” spoofs Hollywood as Fields plays himself on a quest to pitch an insane movie script. The set includes a 1965 TV documentary on Fields. DVD set, $59.98. (Universal)

TV on DVD:

“Maude: The Complete First Season” — A spinoff of “All in the Family,” the 1970s sitcom stars Beatrice Arthur as the brassy, liberal Maude, a firebrand at the center of an issues-oriented show whose cast includes Bill Macy, Adrienne Barbeau and Esther Rolle. The first 22 episodes come in a three-disc set. DVD set, $29.95. (Sony)

“McHale’s Navy: Season One” — Ernest Borgnine and Tim Conway head the cast in the 1960s Navy sitcom about the rowdy crew of a PT boat during World War II. A five-disc set packs the first 36 episodes and a recent cast reunion. DVD set, $44.98. (Shout)

“Christy: The Complete Series” — Kellie Martin stars in the short-lived 1990s series about a city-dweller teaching school in the backwoods in the early 1990s. All 20 episodes come in a four-disc set. DVD set, $39.98. (20th Century Fox)

“Miami Vice” — A pair of five-disc sets have seasons three and four of the 1980s cop show featuring Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas. Season three has 24 episodes, season four has 22. DVD sets, $59.98 each. (Universal)

“NewsRadio: The Complete Fifth Season” — Dave Foley, Maura Tierney and the gang at WNYX are back, with Jon Lovitz joining the cast to replace the late Phil Hartman. The final 22 episodes come in a three-disc set. DVD set, $39.95. (Sony)