Two exceptional films come to DVD and Blu-ray this week. First up is director Ridley Scott's semi-revisionist look at the 'Robin Hood' legend, starring his favorite actor, Russell Crow, in the title role. Though the critics disapproved, audiences liked the historical action-adventure that revels in the nitty-gritty of 13th century England (beware the mice). 'The Secret in Their Eyes' is a nitty-gritty thriller that takes place in Argentina in the present day and, via flashbacks, to the repressive 1970s, to examine an unsolved crime; in the guise of a police procedural the film explores love, justice, injustice, crime, political intrigue, remorse, revenge and lost romance. Whew!

'Robin Hood'
What It's About: Russell Crowe plays expert archer Robin Longstride, who returns to England from the Crusades in the 13th century to find his beloved country ruled by a weak, wuss of a King John. It seems John has fallen under the sway of the brutal and treacherous thug Godfrey -- a shill for the French -- who takes it upon himself to pillage the countryside under the pretext of collecting royal taxes. It's up to Robin and his soon-to-be-merry men to fight back and save England from the invaders.

It's Kinda Like: 'Braveheart' meets 'Robin and Marian'

What We Say: Director Ridley Scott decided on a different take on the Robin Hood legend, figuring that it had been done so many times before it was necessary to rethink the story. And this he did, in a sense creating a prequel by concentrating on Robin Hood before he became Robin Hood -- a backstory, of sorts. It works for us, combining historical accuracy with some gripping action sequences that make you -- shudder -- think about the legend-as-a-man. As Robin, Crowe is the strong, silent type; as Lady Marion, Cate Blanchett is wonderfully emancipated. It's a long film but worth it.
Moviefone Minute: Watch here as we play around with armor and a sword from the movie.
• Extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray include the theatrical and unrated director's cuts, an informative "Rise and Rise Again: Making Ridley Scott's Robin Hood," deleted scenes and commentary. The Blu-ray adds "Director's Notebook," a seamless multimedia experience focusing on the director's vision.
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'The Secret in Their Eyes'
What It's About: This Argentinean film won the Oscar this year for Best Foreign-Language film. And for good reason: Director Juan Jose Campanella (who, by the way, has cut his teeth on U.S. TV, directing episodes of 'Strangers With Candy,' 'L&O: CI' and 'House') creates a police procedural of sorts about a recently retired criminal court investigator who decides to write a novel based on a 25-year-old unresolved case that still haunts him: In the early 1970s -- a time in Argentine history when a military junta ruled the country, waging a Dirty War against the people in which citizens just "disappeared" -- a beautiful young newlywed was raped and murdered in her home while her husband worked at a bank. The film travels back and forth in time as the investigator comes to grip with crime, dirty politics, repression and lost love.

It's Kinda Like: 'Broken Embraces' meets 'Tell No One'

What We Say: This is the kind of film that makes moviegoing a worthwhile and exciting experience. No amount of advance reviews or synopses can prepare you for the sweep and scope of this film. It's a stunning tour-de-force that explores the depths of human emotions -- love, fear, loneliness, yearning, hate -- disguised as a police procedural mystery that effortlessly juggles romance, comedy, suspense and political commentary.
• Extras: Both the DVD and Blu-ray include commentary with Campanella and behind-the-scenes and casting featurettes.
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'Charade'
Why the Re-Release? There have been many, many DVD re-releases of this Stanley Donen classic but this Criterion Collection Blu-ray edition is a cause for celebration. Although the special features duplicate the last Criterion DVD edition released in 2004, this one ups the ante by taking an exceptional DVD transfer and making it better on Blu-ray.

Special Features: Commentary featuring director Donen and screenwriter Peter Stone, original theatrical trailer, booklet featuring an essay by film historian Bruce Eder.

Is It Worth Upgrading? If you haven't seen 'Charade' in a few years or (gulp) never, now is the time. In the comedic thriller, a trio of crooks relentlessly pursue a young American, played by Audrey Hepburn, outfitted in gorgeous Givenchy, through a gorgeous Paris, in an attempt to recover the fortune her dead husband stole from them. The only person she can trust is a suave, mysterious stranger, played by Cary Grant. Need we say more? Buy it now.
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Other Blu-ray releases
'The Peacemaker' (1997) starring George Clooney and Nicole Kidman. Bonus features: Stunt footage, "From the Cutting Room Floor ..." featurette.
'American Beauty' (1999) Director Sam Mendes' beautiful meditation on the American family and its mores is even more beautiful on Blu-ray. Stars Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Chris Cooper, Peter Gallagher, Mena Suvari, Wes Bentley, Allison Janney, Scott Bakula. Bonus features: Commentary by Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball; "American Beauty: Look Closer ..." featurette, storyboard presentation with Mendes and director of photography Conrad L. Hall.


Other New September 21 DVD Releases:
'Alien Autopsy'
'Directors: Life Behind the Camera'
'The Experiment'
'Ondine'
'Stomp the Yard: Homecoming'
'Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue'
'Triple Dog'
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Check out other new September 21 DVD releases at OnVideo.
CATEGORIES DVDs