- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Watchmen: Director’s Cut (Warner, $20.49 Blu-ray, $17.49 DVD) - When “Watchmen” was released in theaters earlier this year, one of the things that critics and audiences scoffed at was the length: At 163 minutes, the movie took almost as long to watch as the graphic novel from which it was adapted takes to read.

How about 24 extra minutes to savor?

The additions by director Zack Snyder are largely unnoticeable - little scene extensions here and there that were wisely cut to trim the running time - with one big exception: the addition of a scene from the source material revolving around the death of a minor character. It’s a shame that this sequence was cut from the original film because it looks fantastic in that Snydery-sort-of-way: all slo-mo and perfectly composed, like a comic book brought to life.

The Blu-ray version takes full advantage of the medium’s extra storage space. Watching “Watchmen” in Maximum Movie Mode essentially allows the audience to watch the movie with Mr. Snyder. He pops up throughout the picture in order to show his storyboards, how the source material matches up to the adaptation, how the “Watchmen” universe’s timeline differs from our own and to dole out other neat little tidbits of information (how scenes were shot, what the storyboards looked like, etc.). It’s a real treat, and an improvement over “The Dark Knight,” another Warner release that tried to do something similar and didn’t manage nearly the same seamless feeling.

- Sonny Bunch

Coraline (Universal, $29.98 for DVD, $34.98 for two-disc DVD, $39.99 for Blu-ray/DVD combo) - You might wonder if there’s a point to watching at home a 3-D film whose visuals seem like the main attraction. “Coraline,” though it was the first stop-motion animation film to be shot entirely in 3-D, never really used the medium to its full potential. There wasn’t that much 3-D to be found in the film, and what was there felt almost like an afterthought rather than something that sprouted organically from the story of a girl torn between two worlds - the quotidian one she knows, and an alternate one that contains both excitement and a growing sense of danger.

You can put on those glasses and judge for yourself at home, as every edition for home release includes four pairs. All three editions also include a commentary with composer Bruno Coulais and director Henry Selick, the filmmaker who also brought to life the much more creative “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”

The two-disc collection also includes deleted scenes, a making-of featurette hosted by Mr. Selick, a look at how Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane and the rest of the cast developed the voices for the characters and a digital copy of the film in 2-D.

The Blu-ray version, which also comes packaged with a standard DVD, includes all that and adds on “Creepy Coraline,” a deeper look into the film’s world with Mr. Selick and author Neil Gaiman. There are also some interesting interactive features - though many are only accessible through the 2-D version of the film. Here, the picture-in-picture feature lets you see behind-the-scenes footage, voice-over sessions and set tours while you watch the film. If your Blu-ray player is connected to the Internet, you can also access “The World According to Henry,” in which Mr. Selick talks about how he adapted Mr. Gaiman’s book.

The Lucy Show: The First Season (Paramount, $42.99) - “I Love Lucy” left the airwaves in 1960, and Lucille Ball divorced husband and co-star Desi Arnaz that same year. That certainly wasn’t the end of her comedy career, though. Two years later, she was back on television - this time playing a widow raising two children - in “The Lucy Show,” which ran on CBS from 1962 until 1968. Miss Ball might have been single this go-around - though thankfully she brought along Vivian Vance, her hilarious partner-in-crime from “I Love Lucy” - but the show was still a success. It never left the top 10 during its six-year run.

All 30 episodes have been remastered for this four-disc set, which also includes outtakes, long-lost cast commercials and interviews, including one with Lucie Arnaz. Miss Ball’s daughter made her acting debut in the series, playing small roles in three episodes during this first season: “Lucy is a Referee,” “Lucy is a Soda Jerk,” “Lucy is a Chaperone.”

Jon & Kate Plus Eight - Season 4, Volume 2: The Big Move (Genius, $19.95) - It seems as if a publicist wrote the press release for this one months in advance and didn’t bother to update it: “They’re a family and they’re in it together!” is trumpeted at the top of the page. That’s not quite true anymore: Jon Gosselin is on the cover of multiple tabloids this week amid rumors he’s engaged before his marriage to Kate has even been dissolved. The Gosselins are called “one of America’s favorite families” in the release, but “one of America’s favorite train wrecks” is more like it. Still, if you’re a fan, you might enjoy seeing the family in better days - or you might like to look for signs of impending breakdown. The 17 episodes on this two-disc set detail the family’s move into their new $1.35 million, 6,200-square-foot home that is now home to just Kate and the eight.

- Kelly Jane Torrance


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