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'The Descendants,' 'Tintin' Highlight New DVD Releases This Week


Following up a strong box office stint and a bevy of Academy Awards nominations, director Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" is one of the top new releases hitting stores this week, with Steven Spielberg's animated "The Adventures of Tintin" also sure to find plenty of its intended audience. Other titles getting their DVD and Blu-ray launch this week include indie hit "My Week with Marilyn," Lars Von Trier's latest film "Melancholia" and remake "The Three Musketeers." Older titles on the schedule include the Blu-ray version of Martin Scorsese's controversial masterpiece "The Last Temptation of Christ" and special edition sets for the "American Pie" trilogy.

Starring George Clooney and Shailene Woodley, "The Descendants" was heralded by many critics as one of the best films of 2011, translating to a bevy of Academy Awards nominations and an Oscar for Alexander Payne's screenplay. Equal measures comedy and drama, "The Descendants" tells the story of a grieving husband (Clooney) who has to deal with the realities of his comatose wife, all while being the lynchpin in a massive real estate deal that could forever change the development of Kauai.

Though "The Descendants" was too dark to cross over and become a mainstream hit, it still had a steady audience from mid-November all the way through the Academy Awards in mid-February. With $81 million domestically and $167 million worldwide, "The Descendants" was writer/director Payne's biggest commercial hit, surpassing the success of "About Schmidt" and the very popular "Sideways." Even with a few other adult choices this week, "The Descendants" shouldn't have a problem finding its audience once again on the small screen.

Those looking for something a bit more adventurous might turn to "The Adventures of Tintin," the first animated film from director Steven Spielberg. "Tintin" gleefully combines elements from Spielberg's famed "Indiana Jones" series to tell the adventures of a boy and his beloved dog. Based on a popular comic book and TV series, "Tintin" had no problem finding an audience outside of the U.S., helping push its worldwide box office total to $373 million even though it hauled in just $77 million domestically. Good for all ages, "Tintin" should be an easy choice for family audiences that missed it when it was in theaters.

Aiming at a much different audience is indie "My Week with Marilyn," starring Michelle Williams in an Oscar-nominated turn as classic temptress Marilyn Monroe, who was once the most recognizable person in the world. Following the true story of Monroe's brief fling with a young assistant during the making of "The Prince and the Showgirl," "My Week with Marilyn" also stars Judi Dench, Emma Watson and Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier. "Marilyn" only managed a meager box office run, but acclaim for Williams' performance could help in the home market.

Also looking to scoop up adult audiences are both Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" and Jason Reitman's "Young Adult." Starring Kirsten Dunst, "Melancholia" is a mind-bending look at the lives of two women struggling to come to grips with a looming catastrophe. Dunst received Best Actress at Cannes, where the film premiered, and "Melancholia" was a hit with critics, though that only translated into minor success at the box office.

Also gathering some acclaim but struggling to find a wide audience was director Jason Reitman's "Young Adult," starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt. Written by "Juno" scribe Diablo Cody, R-rated comedy "Young Adult" gives an unflinching look at the life of a woman (Theron) desperately trying to prove to her old hometown that she's still the queen bee she was in high school.

Those not blown away by the new titles hitting stores might turn to Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," which is getting its Criterion Collection Blu-ray release this week. Heralded by Gene Siskel as the best film of 1988, "The Last Temptation of Christ" was condemned by the Catholic Church as blasphemous for Scorsese's poetic character study of Jesus' human side. Starring Willem Dafoe as Jesus and Harvey Keitel as Judas, "Last Temptation" should generate some interest as we enter the home stretch leading to Easter.

While "Last Temptation" is for the serious movie fan, Universal is also launching new Blu-ray sets of the original "American Pie" trilogy as we get closer to the release of "American Reunion.". All three films in the trilogy were massive commercial hits, helping to redefine the R-rated adult comedy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Though the series shifted to straight-to-DVD releases after "American Wedding," the entire cast is back for "American Reunion," which is set to hit theaters in early April.

Next week, the English-language version of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" is among the top new releases followed by the critically acclaimed family film "The Muppets," starring Amy Adams and Jason Segel. Also getting launched next week will be drama "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," Roman Polanski's "Carnage" and Jonah Hill's comedy "The Sitter."

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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