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'Blue Is the Warmest Color' an honest coming-of-age tale

EntertainmentMoviesFictionTom HiddlestonGravity (movie)Chris HemsworthThor: The Dark World (movie)

Blue Is the Warmest Color

Criterion, $19.95; Blu-ray, $24.95

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 25

For all the controversy over the explicit sex in writer-director Abdellatif Kechiche's three-hour adaptation of Julie Maroh's graphic novel "Blue Is the Warmest Color," the film is ultimately just a sensitive and honest coming-of-age story, showing how a teenager discovers who she is with the help of her older lesbian girlfriend, then has to find herself again when they drift apart. Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux are terrific as the young ladies who don't have much in common beyond their mutual attraction but whose intense affair leaves them — and the viewer — a little wiser. Criterion's DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film are unusually devoid of special features, but a fuller special edition is in the works.

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Gravity

Warner Bros., $28.98; Blu-ray, $35.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 25

Not just a dazzling special effects spectacle — though it is undoubtedly that — Alfonso Cuarón's best picture nominee is also a potent spiritual allegory about a woman adrift in outer space, suddenly aware of how desperately she wants literally and figuratively to return to Earth. Sandra Bullock is outstanding as Dr. Ryan Stone, a scientist who signs on to a space shuttle mission and then lives through a horrific disaster, with only veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) to guide her. "Gravity" moves from one nail-biting sequence to the next, each masterfully plotted out and executed, but it's Dr. Stone's metaphorical rebirth that makes the film not just exciting but also beautiful. The DVD and Blu-ray add an impressive batch of tech-focused featurettes, plus a companion short film by Cuarón's son Jonás, who co-wrote "Gravity."

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Nebraska

Paramount, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 25

Director Alexander Payne and screenwriter Bob Nelson's best picture nominee starts out as a dry, quirky indie comedy, with Bruce Dern playing a senile old coot named Woody who demands that his son David (Will Forte) drive him to Lincoln to pick up the sweepstakes prize he's convinced he's won. But once the story detours into Woody's old hometown — and begins dealing with the resentment and pain he left behind years ago — "Nebraska" deepens into a heartbreaking story of one man toward the end of his life looking back at the wreckage he's left in his wake. The Oscar-nominated June Squibb gives a funny and sweet performance as Woody's wife, who puts everything in perspective. The DVD and Blu-ray come with a few featurettes.

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Thor: The Dark World

Disney/Buena Vista, $29.99; Blu-ray, $32.99/$39.99

Available on VOD beginning Feb. 25

Having spun a series of blockbuster individual superhero movies into the mega-hit "The Avengers," Marvel has begun following those heroes back into their own adventures. "Iron Man 3" came out last year, and the next "Captain America" is due soon; in between, Marvel released "Thor: The Dark World," with the hunky Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the Norse god, Natalie Portman returning as his mortal love interest Dr. Jane Foster, and Tom Hiddleston playing the malevolent trickster Loki. This sequel is darker and heavier than the first "Thor" film, in large part because of it taking place mostly in the mythic realms of Asgard. But Hemsworth and Hiddleston do a lot to keep the story grounded. Director Alan Taylor joins Hiddleston for a commentary track on the DVD and Blu-ray, which also include deleted scenes, featurettes and bonus material that connects this film to the larger Marvel universe.

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EntertainmentMoviesFictionTom HiddlestonGravity (movie)Chris HemsworthThor: The Dark World (movie)
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