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‘Wallace & Gromit’ bound onto DVD

Also new: ‘Just Like Heaven,’ ‘Elizabethtown’ and ‘Survivor: Pearl Islands’
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit”
If only it came with its own cheese and crackers, this animated DVD would be a one-stop purchase to while away a weekend afternoon. Cheese-obsessed crackpot inventor Wallace and his smarter-than-your-average dog Gromit graduate from their Academy Award-winning short films to a feature-length adventure as their new anti-pest operation faces a challenge from a monstrous, ravenous bunny that threatens the town’s giant vegetable contest. The DVD packs an entertaining batch of extras, among them nine deleted scenes with commentary from directors Nick Park and Steve Box, who also offer commentary for the full film. The disc also offers a glimpse at how Aardman Studios crafts its films using stop-motion techniques, shooting inanimate objects one frame at a time. Two of last week’s three Oscar nominations for feature-length animation went to stop-motion pictures (“Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” grabbed the other), the first time no computer-animated films were nominated. Ironically, the “Wallace & Gromit” DVD includes a sneak peek at Aardman’s upcoming cartoon comedy “Flushed Away” — created through computer animation instead of stop-motion. DVD, $29.99. (DreamWorks) Read the review

“Just Like Heaven”

Romantic-comedy queen Reese Witherspoon earned a best-actress Oscar nomination as singer June Carter, the love of country legend Johnny Cash’s life, in “Walk the Line.” Here, Witherspoon charms her way through a fluffier story as a ghostly visitor, a doctor unaware she was involved in a head-on car crash who shows up as a blithe spirit at her old apartment where a morose widower (Mark Ruffalo) — the only person who can see her — now is living. DVD extras include four deleted scenes, among them an alternate ending, cast and crew interviews and commentary with director Mark Waters. DVD, $29.99. (DreamWorks) Read the review



Not nominated for an Oscar of any sort is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s miserable action-horror adaptation of the sci-fi video game, which arrives in a needless unrated extended version. The Rock and Karl Urban star as futuristic Marines dispatched to Mars to investigate the bloodthirsty beasties that have taken up shop at a human outpost there. DVD featurettes offer a look at the visual effects behind the monsters and the makeup job applied to The Rock for his final showdown with Urban. The disc also examines the “basic training” the actors underwent to become screen grunts, while another segment chronicles the popularity of the “Doom” video game. Also available on DVD is the R-rated theatrical version of the movie. DVD, $29.98. (Universal) Read the review


Paramount Pictures

No stranger to the Oscars himself, writer-director Cameron Crowe has to sit out the awards season after delivering this well-intentioned mess that meanders all over the place without ever arriving anywhere. Orlando Bloom stars as a shoe designer who’s just created the ultimate footwear flop and must put on a brave face after his dad dies, sending him on a journey through his family roots and an encounter with the world’s perkiest flight attendant (Kirsten Dunst). Crowe, a screenplay Oscar winner (for “Almost Famous”) who also made best-picture nominee “Jerry Maguire,” premiered a considerably longer version of “Elizabethtown” at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival then quickly hacked it down for theatrical release. The edit was not much of an improvement, and for now, the longer cut remains shelved, with only the theatrical version released on DVD. The disc has scant extras, including a couple of extended scenes and a making-of featurette. DVD, $29.95. (Paramount) Read the review

“Bambi II”Man ruined the forest, and now the species is out to despoil one of the most beloved animated classics ever. In fairness, Disney’s straight-to-video follow-up to the 1942 treasure is cute and entertaining; it’s just that the studio’s continued efforts to hunt up a few more bucks with its cartoon epilogues feels like the equivalent of tearing Carnegie Hall apart and putting in stadium seating so you can crowd a few more people inside. The sequel is a lesson in single parenting as Bambi’s deadbeat dad returns and instructs his little fawn on the ins and outs of living with nature. The DVD has a making-of segment and a handful of set-top games for your human fawns. DVD, $29.99. (Disney)

TV on DVD:

“Survivor: Pearl Islands” — Once more unto the beach with the seventh installment of the last-person-standing reality show, whose 15 episodes come in a five-disc set. Competitors offer commentary on five episodes. DVD set, $49.99. (Paramount)

“Growing Pains: The Complete First Season” — The family sitcom that debuted in the mid-1980s stars Alan Thicke and Kirk Cameron in an ode to wholesome television. The first 22 episodes are included in a four-disc set. DVD set, $29.98. (Warner Bros.)

“Grounded for Life: Season 1” — The dysfunctional side of family life is examined in Donal Logue’s sitcom about a party-hearty couple raising three kids. A four-disc set contains the first 20 episodes, plus cast interviews. DVD set, $39.98. (Anchor Bay)

“Touched by an Angel: The Third Season — Volume 1” — Heavenly creatures Roma Downey and Della Reese spread hope and cheer among mortals in the inspirational drama. Sixteen of year three’s episodes are packed in a four-disc set. DVD set, $38.99. (Paramount)

“Poltergeist: The Legacy — Season 1” — Nastier visitors from the afterlife spread mayhem in the series inspired — in name and spirit only — by the horror-movie franchise. The five-disc set has 21 episodes. DVD set, $59.95. (Sony)

“The Best of the Electric Company” — The venerable 1970s children’s education show heads to DVD in a four-disc set featuring 20 top episodes, with such stars as Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman and voice guests that include Mel Brooks, Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel. DVD set, $49.98. (Shout)