Witness Hugh Jackman battling special effects


Van Helsing

Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale

Universal, $30

It’s hard to believe any director could make Hugh Jackman seem boring on screen. But the man who electrified audiences as Wolverine in both “X-Men” movies and won a Tony this year for the musical “The Boy From Oz” is anemic as the famed vampire hunter in Stephen Sommers’ lackluster monster movie. Van Helsing battles Dracula (a deliciously over-the-top Richard Roxburgh), Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley) and the Wolf Man (Will Kemp). But the computer-generated effects end up overwhelming the movie instead of enhancing the thrills.

The best DVD extra is the audio commentary with Roxburgh, Hensley and Kemp, who are jovial and witty. Slightly better than average are outtakes and the mini-doc on the creation of the monsters and special effects.


Garfield: The Movie

Breckin Meyer, voice of Bill Murray

Fox, $30

In their commentary, director Peter Hewitt and producer John Davis say it cost $35 million to computer-generate the fat cat in this live-action version of Jim Davis’ comic strip. Though one can almost count the 6 million-plus strands of animated hair that make up the 3-D orange tabby, the lasagna-loving feline doesn’t look real. The best performance belongs to a flesh-and-blood terrier mutt named Tyler who plays Odie, the bane of Garfield’s existence. The DVD features only the director-producer commentary.



A Cinderella Story

Hilary Duff, Chad Michael Murray

Warner Home Video, $20

Though audiences recently had to suffer through one hip remake of a “Cinderella” tale -- “Ella Enchanted” with Anne Hathaway -- that didn’t stop Hollywood from going back to the well one more time. This time around, Hilary Duff plays the Cinderella character, a hard-working, bright high school student who lives in a garish house with her Botoxed stepmother (Jennifer Coolidge) and her dimwitted stepsisters. Enter quarterback Chad Michael Murray as her Prince Charming.

Like the movie, the DVD is strictly for Duff’s tweener fans. Extras include a glimpse into the fashions and hairstyles of the movie, a music video and an interactive game in which one can pick her own Prince Charming. Duff, Murray and several of the young stars supply the giggly commentary.


Arrested Development

Jason Bateman, Jeffrey Tambor

Fox, $40

The outrageous Fox comedy about a dysfunctional family languished in the ratings in its premiere season, but it became a critics’ darling and was the surprise winner of the Emmy for best comedy series. It arrives on DVD in a three-disc set that includes every episode from the first season, including the extended pilot with language that seems more at home on “The Sopranos,” a look at the creation of the show, extended and deleted scenes and a preview of the second season with executive producer and narrator Ron Howard.