New on DVD and Blu-ray: 'John Carter' and More

[caption id="attachment_115190" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Disney"]John Carter[/caption]

This week: Disney's big-budget Martian adventure "John Carter" works better at home, where repeated viewings help one keep all the alien characters and their alliances straight.

Also new this week is the action blockbuster "Safe House" with Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington, the family adventure "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," and the Blu-ray debut of the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."

'John Carter'

[caption id="attachment_131123" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Buena Vista"]John Carter[/caption]

Box Office: $73 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 52% Rotten

Storyline: In this PG-13 Disney movie based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" novels, Taylor Kitsch plays a Civil War Confederate Army captain who discovers a medallion that transports him to Mars. There John Carter discovers that the lower gravity on the Red Planet enables him to jump great distances -- a talent that comes in handy when he is caught in the middle of a tribal war.

Extras! The short "100 Years in the Making" featurette on the DVD and Blu-ray looks at the life and career of Burroughs as well as the many attempts at adapting the first book into a film.

We Say: Though the movie is available on Blu-ray 3-D, the extra dimension is a bit of a distraction for this convoluted adventure that immediately throws you -- along with our shirt-challenged hero -- right in the middle of an otherworldly war with little explanation or backstory. The expensive CGI effects had Disney heads seeing red, but you can afford to drink them in repeatedly at home, because "John Carter" requires several viewings before the story connects.

'Safe House'

[caption id="attachment_131130" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Universal"]Safe House DVD[/caption]

Box Office: $126 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 54% Rotten

Storyline: Ryan Reynolds plays the "housekeeper" of a CIA safe house in Cape Town, South Africa, where international criminal Tobin Frost (Denzel Washington) is being held. When security is breached, Reynolds's low-level agent must keep the prisoner out of harm's way.

Extras! The Blu-ray exclusive "Safe Harbor: Cape Town" discusses the multicultural qualities of the South African city and why it was chosen as the primary filming location.

We Say: Action fans and fans of the two leads will enjoy the cat-and-mouse antics as Reynolds and Washington dart to and fro while dodging an endless hailstorm of bullets, but there isn't anything novel that makes "Safe House" stand apart from any other rat-a-tat cinematic attack.

'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island'

[caption id="attachment_131131" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Turner Home Entertainment"]Journey 2: The Mysterious Island[/caption]

Box Office: $103 million

Rotten Tomatoes: 42% Rotten

Storyline: Original "Journey to the Center of the Earth" star Josh Hutcherson returns in this sequel as Sean Anderson, a teen obsessed with finding his missing grandfather (Michael Caine) on an island that doesn't appear on any conventional map. Sean convinces his stepdad (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson") to fly them both to Palau, where they chart a helicopter and are sucked into a Jules Verne-inspired world of mysterious creatures and a quest to find Captain Nemo's tomb.

Extras! The Blu-ray exclusive "Are You Strong Enough to Survive Mysterious Island?" is an interactive map that allows you to explore the island further by watching videos and interviews.

We Say: This enjoyable, if unremarkable, PG-rated family adventure works best on Blu-ray 3-D because the format capitalizes on the theatrical version's tailor-made shots, like the underwater sequences with a giant electric eel or when Johnson bounces fruit off his dancing pecs right at the camera.

'Yellow Submarine' Blu-ray

[caption id="attachment_131134" align="alignright" width="220" caption="Capitol"]Yellow Submarine Blu-ray[/caption]

Box Office: N/A

Rotten Tomatoes: 95% Fresh

Storyline: The Beatles and their yellow submarine are all that stand in the way of the Blue Meanies and a menacing Flying Glove threatening the paradise known as Pepperland, where music and happiness reign.

Extras! In addition to cel reproductions, collectible stickers and a 16-page booklet, this Blu-ray debut contains 30 behind-the-scenes photographs and 29 pencil drawings accessible via the disc's special features.

We Say: The swirling colors of this 1968 family flick only seem more vibrant in its transition to high definition, giving a new generation the chance to enjoy the strange lands and creatures visited by the animated Beatles.

Also New This Week:

"Act of Valor"

"Bad Ass"

"Erin Brokovich" Blu-ray

"Machine Gun Preacher"

"Sixteen Candles" Blu-ray