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posted: 12/9/2012 5:05 AM

DVD previews

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  • Jeremy Renner plays spy Aaron Cross in "The Bourne Legacy" coming out on DVD.

    Jeremy Renner plays spy Aaron Cross in "The Bourne Legacy" coming out on DVD.

The Washington Post

Coming Dec. 11

"The Bourne Legacy" (PG-13, 135 minutes, Universal): The fourth installment of the hugely successful franchise starring Matt Damon as the memory-depleted assassin Jason Bourne does not star Damon (or his character), nor does it arrive by way of director Paul Greengrass. But "The Bourne Legacy" looks surprisingly good on-screen, precisely because it's so good on paper. Written and directed by Tony Gilroy, who penned all three Jason Bourne movies, "The Bourne Legacy" achieves its first order of business with intelligence and imaginative dexterity, building on the pre-existing story. For the most part, "The Bourne Legacy" takes place in an impressively recognizable world, where science, hands-free geopolitics and the modern security state intersect to create human warriors who behave like the human equivalent of drones. It's that world and its ruthless thought-leaders that Aaron Cross must navigate -- with his memory intact, but driven by just as dramatic an inner need. At least that's clearly what Gilroy intended; unfortunately, Cross' personal struggle isn't nearly as narratively propulsive as Jason Bourne's amnesia. Still, Jeremy Renner makes for an intense, highly watchable franchise-anchor-in-the-making. Contains violence and intense action sequences. DVD extras: commentary with Tony Gilroy, co-writer Dan Gilroy, editor John Gilroy, director of photography Robert Elswit, second unit director Dan Bradley and production designer Kevin Thompson; deleted scenes; "Re-Bourne" production featurette; and "Capturing Chaos: The Motorbike Chase" featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: featurette on how Renner prepared for the Aaron role; an on-location featurette; "Man vs. Wolf" and wolf sequence test featurettes; and a behind-the-scenes character featurette on Aaron and Marta (played by Rachel Weisz).

"Ice Age: Continental Drift" (PG, 88 minutes, 20th Century Fox): The fourth "Ice Age" freshens up the 10-year-old franchise by shunning easy pop-culture jokes and embracing its weird side. Previous "Ice Age" installments drew inspiration from our planet's climate changes, and "Continental Drift" is no different. Here, fissures caused by volcanic fault lines separate franchise regulars Sid, Diego and Manny from the latter's family -- wife Ellie and teenage daughter Peaches. Efforts to reunite at a sinking land bridge force Manny and crew to battle a menacing ape who rules the Seven Seas from his pirate-ship-shaped iceberg. "Continental Drift" does fall victim to an avoidable sequel trap by adding too many new faces at the expense of existing characters. Jennifer Lopez brings romantic chemistry as Shira, an albino tiger who ends up being a love interest for Diego. And Wanda Sykes creates the funniest character in "Ice Age" history as Sid's Granny. But we spend so much time deciphering these new characters that Ellie, and even Manny, are all but left in the dust. What "Continental Drift" lacks in character development, however, it makes up for in visual wizardry. Contains mild rude humor and action/peril. Extras: deleted scenes; music videos; "The Sid Shuffle" dance along; Party with a Pirate interactive viewing mode; featurettes "Through a Pirate's Spyglass," "Granny and the Stink of the Sloths," "Whale of a Tale: Beasties, Myths and Drifts" and "Ice Age: The Story So Far"; and Sign Along interpretation in American Sign Language by actor Sean Berdy. 3-D version also available.

"Ted" (R, 107 minutes, Universal): If you've seen the trailers for "Ted," you're hip to its high-concept premise: A little boy named Johnny Bennett gets a cuddly teddy bear for Christmas and, after making a wish, the bear begins to talk; 20 years later Johnny (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) live together as roomies, generally avoiding the bothersome business of growing up. Making his live-action directorial debut, MacFarlane, the wisenheimer behind the animated television series "Family Guy," has created a universe based largely on the same humor of that show. But eventually MacFarlane's formula -- consisting of filthy, ethnically offensive jokes, scatological humor, tacky pop culture references and random cameos -- begins to wear thin. Contains crude and sexual content, pervasive profanity and some drug use. Extras: commentary by MacFarlane, Wahlberg and co-writer Alec Sulkin; three-part making-of documentary; unrated version; gag reel. Also, on Blu-ray: deleted scenes, alternate takes, "Teddy Bear Scuffle" featurette on choreographing the Motel 6 scene with Wahlberg and Ted.

Also: "Why Stop Now," "Dreams of a Life" (Britain/Ireland, documentary that explores the mystery of 38-year-old Joyce Vincent, who lay undiscovered for three years after her death in one of the busiest parts of London, Strand Releasing), "41" (documentary on George H.W. Bush, HBO), "The Qatsi Trilogy" (1983-2002, three films by activist Godfrey Reggio, scored by Philip Glass, Criterion Collection), "Following" (1999, Criterion Collection), "The Luchino Visconti Collection: Four Films" (five-disc set with restored and remastered editions of "La Terra Trema," "Bellissima," "Ludwig" and "L'innocente"), "Death Valley" (1982), "Rehearsal for a Sicilian Tragedy," "The Story of Film: An Odyssey," "The Wild Geese" (1978)," "Titanic: Birth of a Legend," "Gregg Allman -- I'm No Angel: Live On Stage" and "YERT -- Your Environmental Road Trip."

Television series: "Futurama: Volume 7," "History Detectives: Season 10" (PBS), "Hazel: The Complete Fourth Season" (1964-65), "Mankind: The Story of All of Us" (three-disc set, History Channel), "Girls: The Complete First Season," "Django!"and "Ultra Seven: The Complete Series Collector's Edition" (1967-68, six-disc set of the pop-culture sci-fi series).

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