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‘Avatar’ arrives in time for Earth Day

Avatar

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

To some, the idea of watching James Cameron’s mega-grossing sci-fi action epic “Avatar” at home -- on a small screen and in crummy ol’ 2-D -- will seem about as appealing as being stuck in a human body instead of one of those tall blue Pandora models. Yet even at reduced size, “Avatar” is quite the spectacle, with interplanetary landscapes that look like Yes album covers, and an ecology-minded plot that’s as rousing as it is corny. Is it worth picking up the bare-bones DVD and Blu-ray editions coming out April 22 -- Earth Day! -- when there are editions with more bells and whistles coming later? That’s between you and your bank account, though the discs being released this week will have superior picture and sound. That could be the best option for your hometree.

Crazy Heart

20th Century Fox, $29.98; Blu-ray, $39.99

Unlike typical awards-bait melodramas, writer-director Scott Cooper’s “Crazy Heart” is likably shaggy and low-key, graced with an excellent T Bone Burnett-supervised soundtrack and a justly Oscar-awarded performance by Jeff Bridges. There’s not much new to the story of a grizzled alcoholic singer-songwriter having his life turned around by a former protege (played by Colin Farrell) and a fawning young journalist (played by Maggie Gyllenhaal), but Bridges is easy to root for, and his character’s hard-bitten country songs are easy on the ears. The “Crazy Heart” DVD and Blu-ray play to the movie’s strengths, adding loads of additional music and deleted scenes.

The Lovely Bones

Paramount, $29.99; Blu-ray, $48.99

Whatever happened to the Peter Jackson who made “Heavenly Creatures,” a perfectly pitched study of adolescence and criminality? Jackson’s adaptation of Alice Sebold’s bestseller “The Lovely Bones” has too much of his “King Kong” in it, turning Sebold’s haunting story about the aftermath of a murder into an overwrought, overlong quasi-fantasy movie, laden with unnecessary special effects. Not even the marvelous Saoirse Ronan as the victim-narrator can humanize this lumbering beast. That said, though “The Lovely Bones” DVD arrives with no special features, the Blu-ray is a phenomenal piece of work, containing a second disc with a three-hour “set diary,” in which Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh walk the viewer through the shoot day by day and scene by scene. The special features are much, much better than the film.

The Young Victoria

Sony, $27.96; Blu-ray, $34.95

Much like Sofia Coppola’s “Marie Antoinette,” “The Young Victoria” explores the rituals of royalty through the story of a young woman navigating arranged romances and inherited power. But where Coppola favored impressionism, “Young Victoria” screenwriter Julian Fellowes and director Jean-Marc Vallée go for direct explanation, via lines like, “Ever feel like a chess piece in a game being played against your will?” Still, the story of Queen Victoria’s romance with Prince Albert is a touching one, and Emily Blunt is winning as the brave, oft-bemused heroine. “The Young Victoria” Blu-ray and DVD come well-prepared, with 20 minutes of deleted scenes and an informative set of featurettes about re-creating Victorian pageantry.

Summer Hours

Criterion, $39.95; Blu-ray, $39.95

Olivier Assayas’ subtle drama “Summer Hours” begins with a family’s last visit with their matriarch and ends with a new generation throwing a rowdy party at her old estate. In between, the movie deals poignantly with how people drift apart when they lose what they once had in common. Criterion’s DVD and Blu-ray of “Summer Hours” includes an insightful half-hour interview with Assayas, plus 90 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.

calendar@latimes.com


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