This is the week you Muggles have been waiting for: Friday marks the DVD and Blu-ray debut of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,' the final chapter in the most successful film franchise of all time. There's lots of evil in this installment of the Potter saga, almost as much as the evil present in David Lynch's 'Blue Velvet,' which makes its Blu-ray debut this week; the high-def edition includes 50 minutes of unseen footage. And evil (though unintentional) abounds in the frames of 'The Change-Up,' a very nasty body-switch comedy that gives the genre a bad name. Read on.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2'
What It's About: After 10 wonderful years, (and seven movies), the cinematic saga of Harry Potter comes to a close with a stupendous, visceral, special-effects laden extravaganza. If you'll recall from 'Part 1,' the evil forces of Lord Voldemort have basically taken over Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic in preparation for enslaving their opponents and purifying the world. Harry, Ron and Hermione -- after what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness in search of the "horcruxes" that give Voldemort his immortality -- amass enough wizardry strength to face off against the Dark Lord's minions while Harry himself takes on the evil one in a battle that would make Raoul Walsh or Sam Fuller proud.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Big Red One' meets 'Excalibur'
What We Say: This is a fitting end to the Harry Potter saga: a cinematic tour-de-force with strong acting and dazzling special effects. And in what must be the highest-grossing series in movie history -- and a series that has fattened the wallets of virtually half the British actors in the world -- the saga gave us the rare opportunity to watch a group of kids come of age (fictionally) on the big screen, witnessing their childhoods' end at the hands of duplicitous and evil adults (though for every bad adult there's also a positive role model). By the end of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,' Ron and Hermione have matured and acknowledge their love for each other while Harry flexes his muscles and kills off the evil father figure. Freud would be proud.
• Extras: 'A Conversation With JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe,' 'The Goblins of Gringotts' featurette, 'The Women of Harry Potter' featurette, deleted scenes; the Blu-ray adds a 'Maximum Movie Mode' close up look at 'Blowing Up Hogwarts.'
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Watch an exclusive clip:
What It's About: Dave and Mitch are best friends who have drifted apart from each other, going their separate ways: Dave (Jason Bateman) has a lovely wife, three kids and a high-paying job in a prestigious law firm; Mitch (Ryan Reynolds) is a man-child with no responsibilities and a stress-free life with no obligations. Ahh, but the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, and after a drunken night together, the pair urinate in the pool of a magical statue and wake up the next morning in each other's bodies. The rest of the movie has the pair struggling to avoid destroying each other's lives before they can find a way to get their old ones back.
It's Kinda Like: 'The Hangover' meets 'Freaky Friday'
What We Say: Hollywood (and audiences) love body swap comedies, whether they concern spirits coming back in human bodies (1941's 'Here Comes Mr. Jordan,' remade as 'Heaven Can Wait' in 1978 by Warren Beatty), women inhabiting men's bodies ('All of Me,' 1984), men inhabiting women's bodies ('Prelude to a Kiss,' 1992), women and men swapping bodies ('Turnabout,' 1940) or mothers and daughters and sons and fathers swapping bodies ('Freaky Friday, 2003 and 'Like Father, Like Son,' 1987). And while most of those films are enjoyable, we can't say the same for 'The Change-Up.' The film puts its emphasis on four-letter words, gross-out bodily functions, sex acts, double entendres and violence -- all in a particularly nasty way -- in attitude, in its stance toward women, in its foul-mouthed potty humor. It is cliched and lacks heart. In a word, it's despicable. It's a shame to see four good actors (Bateman, Reynolds, Olivia Wilde and Leslie Mann) wasting their time on such junk.
• Extras: Commentary by director David Dobkin, deleted scenes, gag reel, behind-the-scenes featurettes.
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- 'Blue Velvet': (1986) The Blu-ray debut of David Lynch's visionary story of sex, death, greed and resurrection arrived too late for review. Lynch paints a perverted universe in which clean-cut Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle MacLachlan) realizes his Mayberry-like home town is not so normal when he discovers a human ear in a field, leading him into an erotic murder mystery that involves a disturbed nightclub singer (Isabella Rossellini) and a drug-addicted sadist (Dennis Hopper). The film is ravishing on the big screen, so we hope Fox has done justice to the film in its high-def incarnation. This edition includes 50 minutes of never-before seen footage, 'Mysteries of Love' documentary, vignettes and "A Few Outtakes." Watch an exlusive Blu-ray clip:
Other New November 8 Releases:
- 'Alleged': (2010) A romantic story about a young reporter and his fiancee -- and moral responsibility and journalistic opportunity -- set against the whirlwind of fundamentalism and sensationalism that was the 1925 Scopes "Monkey Trial" that pitted William Jennings Bryan against Clarence Darrow. Stars Nathan West, Ashley Johnson, Brian Denny, Fred Dalton Thompson, Colm Meaney.
- 'Atlas Shrugged: Part 1': (2011) The big-screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's philosophic magnum opus touting "the morality of rational self-interest" takes place in a dystopian future in the U.S. when the country is on the verge of economic collapse and a pair of lone entrepreneurs -- the owner of the nation's last railroad system and an industrialist whose super-strength metal alloy holds the promise of the future -- team to prevent the motor of the world from stopping.
- 'A Better Tomorrow': (2010 -- South Korea) stars Jin-mo Ju and Seung-heon Song in a remake of John Woo's 1986 cult classic, here about double-dealing and warfare among rival Thai and Korean mob syndicates.
- 'Boy Wonder': (2011) An urban psychological-thriller about a young boy who witnesses the brutal murder of his mother during a Brooklyn car-jacking and who grows up to be a loner, obsessed with finding his mother's killer -- as a straight-A student by day and a self-appointed hero at night.
- 'In My Sleep': (2009) A man with a rare sleep disorder, parasomnia, wakes up with blood on his hands and fears he may be a sleepwalking killer. Stars Philip Winchester, Lacey Chabert, Abigail Spencer, Kelly Overton, Michael Badalucco, Beth Grant, Tony Hale.
- 'The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll': (2009) A rock star retreats to his hometown after his sophomore album flops and reunites with his estranged partner; the pair head out on the road in the hopes of salvaging their long lost dream. Stars Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Taryn Manning, Lukas Haas, Peter Fonda, Lauren Holly, Kelly Lynch, Aimee Teegarden.
- 'The River Why': (2010) A young man leaves the city to find himself through his love of fishing, encountering a group of eccentrics who change his life. Stars Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, William Hurt, Dallas Roberts, Kathleen Quinlan, William Devane.
- '13': (2011) Remake of the award-winning 2005 international sensation "13 Tzameti," about a man who assumes a dead man's identity and finds himself embroiled in an underground world of power, violence, and chance where men gamble behind closed doors on the lives of other men in an underworld Russian roulette competition. Stars Jason Statham, Alexander Skarsgard, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Mickey Rourke, Michael Shannon, 50 Cent, Ray Winstone, Gaby Hoffmann, Ben Gazzara.
Check out more November 8 DVD releases at OnVideo.