Harry Potter and Narnia flicks among new home entertainment titles | View from the Couch | Creative Loafing Charlotte

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Harry Potter and Narnia flicks among new home entertainment titles

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Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by director Michael Apted and producer Mark Johnson; four deleted scenes; three making-of featurettes totaling 20 minutes; brief interviews with Apted, Henley, Poulter and Liam Neeson (who provides the voice of Aslan the lion); and the animated short The Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader.

Movie: *1/2

Extras: **1/2

FAIR GAME (2010). By now, it's accepted by all but the most deluded right-wing zealots and Tea Party groupies that the Bush administration took this country to war under false pretenses. There was a point when the vessel of justice could have been righted and a course for a better tomorrow could have been charted, but instead, lies were upheld, misinformation was spread like so much manure, and the moment was gone. Fair Game is a film about that moment. Naomi Watts stars as Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA operative whose undercover status was blown in retaliation for her husband Joe Wilson (Sean Penn) writing a New York Times op-ed piece in which he revealed that the justification for going to war with Iraq was a fabrication on the part of the war criminals in the White House. The film tracks the lives of the Wilsons professionally and personally, showing how the political fallout was placing a severe strain on their marriage. The most fascinating element of this important picture is the philosophical difference that exists between the couple. Joe is an idealist, honestly believing that he can take on the Republican thugs and win; Valerie is a realist, realizing the futility of any such efforts. It's an interesting dichotomy, because while our hearts side with Joe, our minds know — and our current history proves — that Valerie was right.

Blu-ray extras consist of audio commentary with Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson, and a pair of theatrical trailers.

Movie: ***

Extras: **

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 1 (2010). We won't know until this July 15 whether or not the final book in J.K. Rowling's franchise really needed to be divided into two movies. But until the release of Part 2 on that forthcoming day, the evidence based on Part 1 leads to an inconclusive verdict. This is the first picture in the series that actually drags — it's not a disastrous debit since the majority of the film is so strong, but it does suggest that some judicious trimming might have given us the final chapter in one fell swoop. The coasting comes in the middle, which is fortunate since it leaves the production with a vibrant opening act and a powerhouse final hour. Fans will immediately be swept up in this latest chapter, which begins by killing off one of the good guys and sending Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) on a crusade to locate specific items that might help them vanquish the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). The movie spends an awful lot of time on the teens as they set up camp in an isolated area, and the romantic yearning between them, usually a highlight of the series, here settles into soap opera mundaneness. Yet once the story leaps past this narrative hurdle, it again gets back to the intriguing dynamics that have long defined this series.

Blu-ray extras include an interactive Maximum Movie Mode (featuring pop-up and picture-in-picture interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and more); eight deleted scenes; a six-part, 19-minute behind-the-scenes featurette looking at various aspects of the production; five additional making-of pieces totaling 32 minutes; and a six-minute promotional trailer of the cast at the grand opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Orlando.

Movie: ***

Extras: ***1/2

THE INCREDIBLES (2004). Since at least Y2K, the vigorous embrace of mediocrity has often become the norm in this country, and writer-director Brad Bird smartly works this national tragedy into an animated superhero tale that's, well, pretty incredible. The bulk of the comic relief comes from costume designer Edna Mode, an Edith Head caricature voiced by Bird himself; the drama comes from the Incredibles, presented as the modern American family that's expected to conform to the societal status quo (i.e. blend with the bland) rather than champion its own uniqueness. The domestic conflicts triggered by their suburban ennui give way to an acceptance of their individuality and, consequently, an ability to pool their resources as both crime fighters and family members. It's emotional without being sticky-sweet, and just one of the reasons why this Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature nestles comfortably next to Pixar's other gems.

Blu-ray extras include audio commentary by Bird and producer John Walker; separate audio commentary by 13 of the film's animators; a 27-minute making-of featurette; six deleted scenes; character interviews; a new, 22-minute roundtable discussion with Bird, Walker and other key crew members; the animated short Jack-Jack Attack; an interactive art gallery; and Easter Eggs.

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