The week is marked by two DVD releases that will become family film staples.
First there is Ang Lee's magnificent Life of Pi. A great movie for any age, it is the story of a young man who survives a sea disaster only to find himself on a lifeboat with a hungry Bengal tiger. Lee recently took home the best director Oscar for this adaptation of Yann Martel's best-selling novel, which can be taken on many levels, including a spiritual one. At its simplest, though, Pi is an exciting, incredibly shot adventure story. It was a major leap forward in the use of 3-D and CGI. But even if you don't have a 3-D television, the film remains a wondrous, surprising experience that bears numerous viewings.
While Pi is a masterpiece, Rise of the Guardians is a sweet film for the younger crowd. Based on the book series Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce, it's the story of how a motley collection of childhood heroes — Santa Claus (voiced by Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman) and the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) — are drawn together by the Moon when the bogeyman (Jude Law) tries to conquer the world by overwhelming children with fear. Jack Frost (Chris Pine), a free spirit who had his own childhood trauma, is the key to their success.
Guardians didn't do well at the box office, but there should be a large interest for it on DVD with its message that kids should be given time to grow before being pummeled by the darkness of the world.
There are a number of family films also being released again as special editions, including Ron Howard's delightful Willow, and Disney's animated Mulan and Mulan II and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Life of Pi retails for $29.98, $39.99 on Blu-ray and $49.99 on Blu-ray 3-D. Rise of the Guardians retails for $29.99, $44.99 on Blu-ray and $54.99 on Blu-ray 3-D.
These DVDs were also released this week (when two prices are listed, the second is for Blu-ray):
New films: Sound City ($18.98, $24.98); Hitchcock ($39.99 Blu-ray); Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away ($29.99, $39.99); Smashed ($30.99, $35.99).
Older family films: Willow ($24.99 Blu-ray); Who Framed Roger Rabbit 25th Anniversary Edition ($26.50 Blu-ray); Mulan and Mulan II ($29.99, $39.99); The Hunchback of Notre Dame ($39.99 Blu-ray); Brother Bear and Brother Bear 2 ($39.99 Blu-ray).
Of special interest: Tracy Anderson: The Pregnancy ($29.98); NFL Super Bowl XLVII Champions: 2012 Baltimore Ravens ($24.99, $34.98).
Older films: Tristana ($19.98, $24.98); Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments ($19.98 Blu-ray); Samson and Delilah ($19.99); Zulu Dawn ($29.95 Blu-ray); Ministry of Fear: The Criterion Collection ($19.95, $29.95); The Blob: The Criterion Collection ($39.95).
TV: Ripper Street ($29.98, $34.98); Father Dowling Mysteries: The Third and Final Season ($59.98); Law & Order: Criminal Intent — The Final Year ($29.93); Real Vikings Collection ($14.98); The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: Season Two ($24.98); Doctor Who: The Aztecs, Special Edition and Doctor Who: The Ark in Space ($34.98 each); Xena, Warrior Princess: The Complete Fourth Season ($26.98); The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series ($35.99).