CATEGORIES DVDs

Love is in the air this week as we start to segue into Valentine's Day mode -- but our top two picks this week don't fall into the realm of conventional love stories. First up is 'Let Me In,' an American remake of the Swedish vampire hit 'Let the Right One In,' in which a young boy feels the first stirrings of friendship and love for a young girl who, it turns out, may have some difficulty in returning the favor -- though she finally does in a horrifying way. Next is 'Never Let Me Go,' an adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's novel about three friends growing up in the idyllic English countryside who grow together as kids and young adults, knowing that they will have to sacrifice themselves -- and their love for each other -- to fulfill their destiny and obligation to the human race. Read on.

'Let Me In'
What It's About: When 12-year-old loner Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee), whose school life is made a living hell by school bullies, befriends a neighbor girl (Chloe Moretz), his life is irrevocably changed. Abby, also 12, is different than most kids: She's sure of herself, walks in the snow in her bare feet, and lives in a heavily curtained apartment. Before long they form a unique bond -- which is sorely tested when it becomes apparent to Owen that Abby may be behind a series of grisly murders. Abby, it turns out, is a centuries old vampire in the body of a young girl.

It's Kinda Like: 'Interview With the Vampire' meets 'Innocent Blood'

What We Say: While we're always dubious of American remakes of foreign films -- especially horror films -- here's one that works just right. If you haven't seen the Swedish original 'Let the Right One In,' you won't feel cheated. This is a vampire film with a heart -- and a soul. Unlike the 'Twilight' series, which is pure soap pulp jury-rigged onto vampire lore, 'Let Me In' takes a more realistic view of the need for blood to survive, putting it into the context of alienation, love, growing up, self-sacrifice, coming-of age and finding one's place in the world. And it's scary to boot.
• Extras:
Commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, deleted scenes.
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'Never Let Me Go'
What It's About: A powerful story revolving around three best friends (Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield) who grow up together at a seemingly idyllic English boarding school with a chilling secret. As they grow into young adults, they find that they have to come to terms with the strength of the love they feel for each other, while preparing themselves for the haunting reality that awaits them: They are genetically engineered clones destined to be organ donors. Adapted from highly acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

It's Kinda Like: 'Gattaca' meets 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona'

What We Say: We thought for sure this would be a sappy romantic tale that used a science-fiction hook to draw the viewer in -- kind of like 'Somewhere in Time' -- but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that this tale of human longing, understanding and perseverance in the face of disaster, deftly does what most great science fiction does -- use technology, other worlds and/or the future to explore the human condition -- and what it means to be human.
• Extras: Behind-the-scenes featurette.
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Watch 'Never Let Me Go' trailers and clips


Best in Blu-ray: 'All About Eve,' 'Pleasantville,' 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'Monsters'

Other New February 1 DVD Releases:
'Alice in Wonderland': Disney's two-disc 60th anniversary Blu-ray version of the 1951 evergreen.
'Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2': Disney unleashes a direct-to-video sequel to its 2008 surprise hit.
'Bonded by Blood': A brutal portrait of the most notorious gangsters in British crime history, a small group of men who dominated the local crime scene in the south of England through their monopoly over the drug trade and popular club scene.
'Conviction': Hilary Swank stars as a mother of two who dedicates herself to prove that her brother is innocent of the murder charges that sent him to prison.
'Hatchet II': The sole survivor of the massacre in 'Hatchet' comes back for revenge.
'Lucky Lady': (1975) Stanley Donen's comedy about three unlikely partners in crime (Gene Hackman, Liza Minnelli, Burt Reynolds) during Prohibition.
'Mean Girls 2': Direct-to-video sequel to 2004's comedy about nasty high school girls.
'Tamara Drewe': A modern take on Thomas Hardy's romance novel "Far From the Madding Crowd," here about a young woman -- once an ugly duckling, now a ravishing beauty thanks to plastic surgery -- who returns to her childhood village to wreak havoc on every male in town. Directed by Stephen Frears and starring Gemma Arterton.
'The Tillman Story': Documentary examines the controversial death and subsequent cover-up of celebrated NFL-star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, killed in the line of duty by friendly fire in Afghanistan.
'Welcome to the Rileys': A middle-aged man (James Gandolfini) -- still distraught over the death of his teenage daughter eight years earlier -- meets a 17-year-old runaway (Kristen Stewart) in New Orleans and forms a platonic bond with her.
'A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop': Director Zhang Yimou's remake of Joel and Ethan Coen's 1985 'Blood Simple'; the Chinese action comedy doesn't have enough broth to sustain it's premise.

Check out other new February 1 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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