CATEGORIES DVDs
There's a diverse set of movies coming to DVD this week, headed up by 'Michael Jackson's This Is It,' the engrossing documentary that takes a look at the behind-the-scenes preparations for the King of Pop's comeback tour -- that never materialized; followed by the roller derby coming-of-age romantic-comedy, 'Whip It,' starring Ellen Page and directed by Drew Barrymore; and the futuristic cop drama about avatars and humans, 'Surrogates,' starring Bruce Willis. 'Michael Jackson's This Is It'
What It's About: This superb documentary is a rare, behind-the-scenes look at Michael Jackson and his crew as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place this summer in London's O2 Arena. Chronicling the months from April through June, 2009, the film is drawn from more than 100 hours of behind-the-scenes footage, featuring Jackson rehearsing a number of performances for the show. Both the standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc are loaded with bonus features.

It's Kinda Like:
'Elvis' '68 Comeback Special' meets 'The Last Waltz'

What We Say: I was never a big Michael Jackson fan but this documentary knocked me out. Jackson was, if not in peak form, then well on his way to a well-deserved comeback with this massive, complicated show. The merging of music, dance and technology glimpsed here was well on its way to setting a live-concert standard that would have raised the bar for years to come. And the "flashbacks" (and reimaginings) to 'Thriller' and 'Beat It' alone are well worth the price of admission.

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews



'Whip It'
What It's About: This directorial debut from Drew Barrymore is a coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old misfit (Ellen Page) in a tiny Texas town who yearns for more from life than just following in her mother's footsteps -- an ex-beauty queen who wants her to be in pageants. To her family's dismay she finds herself, alright, when she lands a spot on a rough-and-tumble women's roller derby team in Austin.

It's Kinda Like:
'Kansas City Bomber' meets 'Little Miss Sunshine'

What We Say: Shunned at the box office, this film deserves a strong second life on DVD: it's a heartfelt, charming, funny and well-crafted look at the trials and tribulations of growing up in 21st century America. Though it's tough to think of Page as a roller derby chick, the diminutive actress pulls it off. And there's winning performance by co-stars Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Zoe Bell and Daniel Stern. Girls just wanna have fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews



'Surrogates'
What It's About: Sci-fi thriller about a near future where people live their lives through robotic surrogates, plugging into their avatars from the comfort of their beds; accidents, violence, disease, and the appearance of aging have been banished. Bruce Wills plays an FBI agent charged with investigating the first homicide in a decade and when his surrogate is destroyed, he must venture out of his apartment for the first time in years to solve the crime.

It's Kinda Like: 'Die Hard' meets 'I, Robot'

What We Say: Like 'Whip It,' this film underperformed at the box office -- but unlike 'Whip It' it took a lot of (unfair) heat from the critics. Director Jonathan Mostow -- whose claim to fame is the sketchy 'Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines' -- runs with the subject matter (based on a graphic novel heavily influenced by the likes of Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard and Isaac Asimov) and turns in a fast-paced, thrilling and involving outing. The reviewers nit-picked here (not enough characterization), nit-picked there (jumps too soon into action), but hey, this is mainstream science fiction, not 'Dr. Zhivago.' It's 88 minutes of pure sci-fi fun.

Rotten Tomatoes Reviews



Other New January 26 DVD Releases:
'The Boys Are Back'
'Bright Star'
'I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell'
'Little Ashes'
'Ponypool'
'St. Trinian's'
'Saw VI'
'Tennessee'


Check out other new January 26 DVD releases at
OnVideo.