The Santa Clause 2
Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell
The original "The Santa Clause" wasn't a great comedy, but there still were enough laughs and an enthusiastic performance from Allen to entertain both kids and adults. But this sequel is strictly for the kiddies, and even the wee ones may have a bit of a struggle to keep from squirming in their seats while watching this holiday fable. The film finds the new Santa discovering he can't continue to be St. Nick unless he gets married.
The digital edition is geared for the tykes: Extras include a lame gag reel, deleted scenes, set-top games, director Michael Lembeck's tour of Elfsburg, a "making-of" featurette and "true confessions" from some of the legendary figures who appear in the film. The best extra on the DVD is Lembeck's rather sweet commentary.
Sinbad -- Legend of the Seven Seas
Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer provide the voices for this enjoyable but unexceptional animated adventure. The tale revolves around the evil goddess Eris employing Sinbad to steal a magical book. When Sinbad learns that his boyhood friend possesses the book, he refuses. Eris steals the book herself, framing Sinbad in the process.
The digital edition includes a clever Cyclops Island interactive adventure that allows viewers to follow various characters; a standard "making-of" documentary, a cute little featurette on the bulldog who "voiced" the role of Sinbad's dog, Spike, DVD-ROM games, three set-top games, character and cast bios, galleries and informative commentary from directors Tim Johnson and Patrick Gilmore, producer Mirrelle Soria and production designer Raymond Zilbach.
Lara Croft Tomb Raider -- The Cradle of Life
Angelina Jolie, Gerard Butler
Though it didn't do as well at the box office this summer, this flashy sequel to the 2001 hit based on the popular video game is better than the original. That's faint praise, though, because "Cradle of Life" still disappoints as an action-adventure tale. In this outing directed by Jan DeBont of "Speed" fame, Lara tries to stop a rich, brilliant villain (Ciaran Hinds) from finding and opening the legendary Pandora's box.
There are no big surprises on the DVD; it's filled with the obligatory making-of featurettes, music videos, commentary from DeBont and deleted scenes, including a far more romantic, sappier alternate ending.
Columbia TriStar, $27
The Oscar-nominated documentary from France features soaring photography of the migration of several species of birds. Director Jacques Perrin and his crew spent four years traveling through 40 countries using planes, gliders, helicopters, boats and balloons to capture these featured friends in flight. The only downside is the rather Yanni-esque score.
The DVD features a better-than-average behind-the-scenes documentary, a music featurette, interviews with the filmmakers and commentary from Perrin, who, with his heavy French accent, is sometimes a bit difficult to understand.
-- Susan King