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'Alvin And The Chipmunks' Heads Batch Of New Blu-ray Releases


Following up yet another great box office run for the "Alvin and the Chipmunks" franchise, third entry "Chipwrecked" should have no problem finding its intended family audience this week as it launches on DVD and Blu-ray. Other titles getting their home market release this week include David Cronenberg's Freud vs. Jung biopic "A Dangerous Method," Angelina Jolie's directorial debut "In the Land of Blood and Honey" and Oscar Best Picture nominee "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." "Casablanca" is also getting released in a special 70th anniversary edition and David Lean's "Brief Encounter" will be available in a new Criterion Blu-ray set for lovers of classic cinema.

Based on the popular kid's TV show, "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked" had no problem hitting its target audience when it reached theaters back in mid-December. Aided by the always busy holiday season, "Chipwrecked" would finish with $132 million domestically and $336 million worldwide, making it one of the biggest animated films of 2011. With even worse critical and audience marks than the first two entries, "Chipwrecked" did see depleting box office numbers, though it still crossed $300 million around the globe and cost just $75 million to produce. Aiming mainly for real young children, "Chipwrecked" will probably be too simple-minded for a sizeable chunk of typical families, though its momentum should still help it find a large home audience.

While family audiences check out "Chipwrecked," adults looking for a more serious venture might turn to director David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method," starring an all-star cast that includes Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Keira Knightley. "A Dangerous Method" is a provocative look at the relationship between famous psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, as well as the woman who got between them. While Cronenberg's recent films "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" had strong critical support, "A Dangerous Method" didn't have quite the same level of fanfare and ended up with a very short box office run late last year.

Though "A Dangerous Method" failed to end up as an awards contender, drama "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" did manage to score a couple prominent Oscar nominations following its theatrical run. Even if it was blasted by critics as one of the worst Best Picture nominees in history, the Oscar buzz did at least help get "Extremely Loud" off the ground in theaters. Starring Sandra Bullock and Thomas Horn, as well as a limited role from Tom Hanks, "Extremely Loud" tells the uplifting story of a boy who tries to come to grips with losing his father in the terrorist attacks on September 11th.

One of the more obscure releases on the schedule this week is from Angelina Jolie, who stepped behind the camera for "In the Land of Blood and Honey," a film about a doomed romance in the fairly recent Bosnian War. Jolie's film was politely applauded by critics, though it received almost no theatrical release at all due to its grim subject matter and being mostly in Bosnian instead of English. "Blood and Honey" should be a better fit on the small screen, though it probably won't inspire an overwhelming segment of adults to give it a shot.

Those looking to brush up on some of the greats from yesteryear might end up checking out the new special edition Blu-ray set of "Casablanca," the heralded classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Released in the middle of WWII, "Casablanca" is consistently sighted as one of the greatest American movies of all-time, right up there with "Citizen Kane," "Gone with the Wind" and "Lawrence of Arabia." Loaded with extras, the three-disc set boasts a top-tier high-definition transfer that should pique the interest of film buffs.

Director David Lean's "Brief Encounter" is another older title getting the Blu-ray treatment as Criterion launches its special edition. Starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard, "Brief Encounter" is a morality play about a woman on the brink of an affair, a movie that was ahead of its time in the pre-MPAA era. Released in 1945, "Brief Encounter" would help launch Lean's career to the next level and he would end up making some of the greatest epics of all-time, including "Lawrence of Arabia," "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Dr. Zhivago."

Next week, Steven Spielberg's historical drama "War Horse" will headline the list of new Blu-ray releases followed by inspirational drama "We Bought a Zoo," starring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson. Roman Polanski's "Chinatown" will also get its long-awaited release on Blu-ray, with Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston starring in the neo-noir classic.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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