CATEGORIES DVDs

Maybe it's because of tax day, Passover or Easter, but there's slim pickings on the DVD front for the rest of the month. This week there's only two major theatrical films coming to home video (but one's a doozy) and next week, just one. On Tuesday, 'Country Strong' comes a singin' and a pickin' with a lively cast and catchy songs that covers up a tragedy brewing below the surface. The big one this week arrives on Friday: 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1,' the penultimate entry in the magical series. Read on.

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1'
What It's About: The saga of Harry Potter is drawing to a close with the 'Deathly Hallows -- Part I.' The forces of evil are gathering strength as Voldemort, his Death Eaters and minions seize control of Hogwarts School and the Ministry of Magic, terrorizing all who oppose them (and even daring to strike out against enemies in the world of the muggles). Harry, Ron and Hermione go on the run, to find and destroy the Horcruxes -- the secret to Voldemort's power and immortality. As he searches for clues, Harry uncovers the legend of the Deathly Hallows, a secret that could give Voldemort the ultimate power he seeks. This episode is a coming of age for Harry and his friends -- they have finally grown up -- and Harry next faces the ultimate -- a one-on-one battle with Voldemort.

It's Kinda Like: 'The Empire Strikes Back' meets 'The Wizard of Oz'

What We Say: After seven novels and seven films, Harry Potter and his friends have grown up and are now facing the full-fledged evils they deal with as adult (any metaphors here for lost innocence?). The first half of the film builds the action and suspense and sets the scene for the final battle (the war to end all wars?) between harry and Voldemort, but after the Nazi-like crackdowns on Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic, the film slows down somewhat as Harry, Ron and Hermione go on their search. If you thought the Hebrews had it rough wandering the wideness for 40 years in Exodus, wait til you follow these three kids in their search for the Horcruxes. It's OK, though -- we're getting set up for the final conflict in Part 2 -- due July 15.

• Extras: A sneak peek of the opening scene from the final film as well as a slew of featurettes.
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'Country Strong'
What It's About: A down-to-earth young singer-songwriter (Garrett Hedlund) gets involved with a fallen, emotionally unstable country star (Gwyneth Paltrow) at a rehab clinic, then continues his affair with her after she embarks on a career resurrection tour helmed by her husband/manager (Tim McGraw). Complicating things even more is the arrival of a beauty-queen-turned-singer (Leighton Meester), who's after the youngster's heart as well. Between concerts, romantic entanglements and old demons threaten to derail them all. The hit soundtrack includes the Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated song "Coming Home," performed by Paltrow, as well as music by McGraw, Ronnie Dunn, Sara Evans, Faith Hill, Hank Williams, Jr. and Lee Ann Womack.

It's Kinda Like: 'Paycheck' meets 'A Star Is Born'

What We Say: What's is it about the creation of art that turns so many artists -- and musicians in particular -- into tragic figures? The inner demons? The self-expression? Putting oneself out there for the whole world to judge? Whatever the reason, the world of country music has its share of soap opera scenarios (even Hannah Montana has her problems) and 'Country Strong' sure as heck brings a message of pain, self-defeat, and insecurity to the fore. Not quite as moving as 'Country Heart' or even the granddaddy of all these C&W tragedies, 'Paycheck,' starring Rip Torn as the nastiest star you would ever want to meet, the film still rollicks along from one concert and bad trip to another. And give props to Hedlund, who can sure hold his own in front of a microphone.

• Extras: Deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.
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Other New April 12 DVD Releases:

'Behind the Burly Q': Documentary on America's most popular form of live entertainment during the first half of the 20th century: the art of burlesque.
'Black Heaven': An innocent young kid becomes enamored of a mysterious, gorgeous girl and is lured into "Black Hole," a dark, obscure video game world of avatars with deadly serious intentions -- they seduce players to commit suicide in the real world.
'The Inheritance': Five ambitious cousins are summoned by the family patriarch to learn about their inheritance -- but one by one they disappear.
'Plastic Planet': Documentary sheds light on the perils of plastic to our environment and explains how plastic affects our bodies ... and the health of future generations.
'A Royal Romance: William & Kate': An intimate look at the British royal heir and his bride-to-be, going beyond the love affair to explore royal destiny. The wedding is April 29.
'The Speed of Thought': A young man who possesses the special gift that enables him to read people's minds has been trained by the government to use his ability for deadly missions involving national defense, until he gets wise to their manipulations.
'A Summer in Genoa': Colin Firth, Hope Davis and Catherine Keener star in director Michael Winterbottom's powerful tale of grief and rebirth among a family summering in Italy.


Check out other new April 12 DVD releases at OnVideo.

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