This week: Christopher Nolan's epic Batman trilogy that began with "Batman Begins" and earned Heath Ledger a posthumous Oscar for his performance in "The Dark Knight" concludes with "The Dark Knight Rises," which introduces the metal-masked Bane (Tom Hardy) and Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) to Gotham City.
'The Dark Knight Rises'
Box Office: $448 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 87% Fresh
Storyline: Christopher Nolan's epic conclusion to his Batman trilogy is set eight years after "The Dark Knight," in which Batman (Christian Bale) took the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent for the greater good of Gotham City. For a while the ruse worked and the crime rate went down, but now a new threat emerges in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy), a fearsome terrorist hell-bent on destroying Gotham City and exposing the cover-up. Bruce Wayne dons the cape and cowl one last time to face his most worthy adversary yet and finds a new ally in Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway). Trilogy newcomers Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard co-star, respectively, as a policeman who believes in the Dark Knight and the new head of Wayne Enterprises with a mysterious past.
Extras! If you're looking for bonus features, don't buy the DVD. Blu-ray exclusives include the multi-chapter making-of feature "Ending the Knight," a nearly one-hour retrospective on the history of the Batmobile, a trailer archive and a print campaign art gallery. "The Dark Knight Rises" can also be purchased on Blu-ray in a limited edition combo pack with a broken Batman cowl.
We Say: This essential, riveting send-off to Nolan's Batman trilogy is one of the heaviest and most complex superhero movies of all time. Bale turns in his strongest performance yet in the trilogy as the broken Bruce Wayne, Michael Caine is heartbreaking as Alfred, Hardy is an imposing presence as Bane despite his marble-mouthed digitally enhanced voice and Hathaway is nothing short of a revelation as the woman never referred to on-screen as Catwoman. The Blu-ray shifts seamlessly between the 2.40:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios to incorporate the larger IMAX shots, and the reference-quality resolution of that IMAX footage is so clear that it almost seems like you're looking through a window.
'Beasts of the Southern Wild'
Box Office: $11 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 86% Fresh
Storyline: Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis stars as Hushpuppy, a six-year-old living in an isolated Louisiana bayou community. When Hushpuppy's father Wink (Dwight Henry) succumbs to a mysterious illness, the tenacious girl bravely sets out on a journey to the outside world only to have her quest hindered by a "busted" universe that melts the ice caps and unleashes an army of prehistoric beasts called Aurochs.
Extras! Both the DVD and Blu-ray have a making-of featurette; BD exclusives include deleted scenes with commentary by director Benh Zeitlin, auditions and more behind-the-scenes featurettes.
We Say: The fantasy drama has already scored major awards at Cannes, Sundance and other film festivals for the powerful performance by its very young leading lady, whom some say might have a shot at an Oscar nomination for imbuing Hushpuppy with such fire.
Box Office: $100,345
Rotten Tomatoes: 51% Rotten
Storyline: The main arc of this found-footage horror anthology follows a group of criminals sent by an unknown person to retrieve a videotape from a house in which a corpse sits in front of a TV. The videotapes they find are the shorts that comprise "V/H/S," which is directed by Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and the quartet known as Radio Silence.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray (no VHS?) contain deleted scenes, a featurette on the visual effects, "Behind the Scenes" and "AXS TV: A Look at 'V/H/S.'"
We Say: At this point, does anyone get excited when they hear that a new found-footage fright flick is debuting? No, and even the diminished box office of "Paranormal Activity 4" illustrates audience fatigue with the gimmick. That said, "V/H/S" uses the tired low-budget-film "cheat" that is found footage to illicit some scares, but the quality is uneven as some directors' chapters are more engaging than others. Plus, at almost two hours, you'll wish someone in the editing room would have lost some of the found footage.
'Finding Nemo' Blu-ray 3D
Box Office: $380 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 99% Fresh
Storyline: This 2003 Pixar favorite follows Nemo, a young clownfish who is unexpectedly transported far from his home in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Nemo's overprotective father (voiced by Albert Brooks) and a forgetful regal blue tang fish named Dory (Ellen DeGeneres) embark on an extraordinary journey that leads to encounters with surfer-dude turtles, hungry seagulls, hypnotic jellyfish and more.
Extras!: This Ultimate Collector's Edition includes the previously released Blu-ray and all of its extras, including deleted scenes, "Reinventing the Submarine Voyage," aquariums and more. The new Blu-ray 3D included here also has 3D aquariums to watch with your glasses on.
We Say: Receiving near-universal praise, "Finding Nemo" remains one of Pixar's most enduring animated classics. The 3D conversion here is stunning and adds a layer of depth to Nemo's colorful undersea world.
Also New This Week:
"The Dark Knight Trilogy"
"Up" Blu-ray 3D
"Silent Night, Deadly Night 1 & 2" Double Feature