Coming March 12
"Hitchcock" (PG-13, 98 minutes, Fox): For all his creepy tendencies, Alfred Hitchcock is portrayed mostly sympathetically in "Hitchcock," in which Anthony Hopkins plays the corpulent British auteur with a combination of hauteur and playfulness. The insouciant tone is set right off the bat, when the camera captures a ghastly murder, only to pan to Hitchcock primly holding a teacup and intoning his familiar, "Good evening." The crime we've just witnessed is the very episode that inspired the novel "Psycho." The story's lurid combination of sex, violence, compulsion and amorality was just the thing to recharge a career he feared was on the decline. Sacha Gervasi has made a strangely staid and dutiful film about a movie that changed cinema forever -- from the way violence could be depicted on-screen to how films would be shot and financed thereafter. Rather than take risks of its own, "Hitchcock" is content to be a safe backstage drama and an ultimately reassuring portrait of a marriage. There's something tonally off about the master of anxiety, neurosis and disquiet being depicted in a story this cozy. Contains some violent images and sexual content. Extras: commentary with Gervasi and writer Stephen Rebello; deleted scene; "Becoming the Master: From Hopkins to Hitchcock" and "Obsessed With Hitchcock" featurettes; Gervasi's behind-the-scenes cellphone footage and making-of featurettes "The Story," "The Cast," "Danny Elfman Maestro," "Hitch and Alma " and "Remembering Hitchcock."
"Life of Pi" (PG, 127 minutes, Fox): By design, this adaptation of Yann Martel's 2001 novel takes viewers on an epic journey, but it also plunges them into a story and myriad sub-stories. The story of Piscine Patel, also known as Pi, begins with an Edenic panorama of his youth, spent in a small zoo run by his father in the former French colony of Pondicherry, India. When the Patels decide to move to Canada, taking the animals with them on a cargo ship, the trip is interrupted by a ruinous storm. Pi is thrown overboard, his only salvation a lifeboat he must share with the zoo's ferocious Bengal tiger, Richard Parker. Pi's journey with Richard Parker forms the spine of "Life of Pi," which Oscar-winning director Ang Lee infuses with the graphic, stylized boldness of illustration and moments of dazzling poetry and intimacy. Proving that digital 3-D photography need not sacrifice detail and brightness like it once did, Lee re-imagines Martel's story with a vibrant, multicolored palette, the images and staging suggesting a state-of-the art cinematic fairy tale rather than a whiz-bang technical achievement. Contains emotional thematic material throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril. Extras: Mini-documentaries "Remarkable Vision," "Epic Journey" and "Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright"; storyboards. Also, on Blu-ray/3D combo: deleted scenes, VFX progression.
"Rise of the Guardians" (PG, 97 minutes, Paramount): The arrival of the bogeyman, known as Pitch Black (voiced by Jude Law), sets the story in motion. Pitch is the bringer of nightmares. His resurgence mobilizes the Guardians -- Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the Sandman -- who must accept the help of the untested and somewhat irresponsible young fifth spirit, Jack Frost (Chris Pine). In addition to the showdown between the Guardians and Pitch there's another conflict. Few kids believe in Jack Frost, other than as a quaint metaphor for cold weather. More and more kids start believing in their nightmares, and fewer and fewer in the Guardians. But, one little boy named Jamie (Dakota Goyo) refuses to give up his beliefs. It's this power of Jamie's belief that makes Jack, and the other Guardians, real again. That's a sweet thought, and the story spins it with magic and dark delight. But there are laughs, too. Contains scary sequences and a frightening character. Extras: commentary with director Peter Ramsey and producers Christina Steinberg and Nancy Bernstein; "Dreamers and Believers" cast and character featurette; "Sandy's Dream Guide," interactive guide in which the Sandman helps interpret dreams. Also, on Blu-ray: four-part behind-the-scenes featurette; "The Man Behind the Guardians" on author William Joyce; two games: "Jack Frost Snowball Showdown!" and "Rock, Paper, Scissors With Sandy."
Also: "This Must Be the Place," "Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away," "Pressed," "Smashed," "The Flat" (Israel), "Ministry of Fear" (1944, Fritz Lang adaptation of a Graham Greene novel, starring Ray Milland, The Criterion Collection), "The Blob" (1958, The Criterion Collection), "Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home," "Duke," "Shaman Healer Sage" (documentary on Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., who transitioned from a successful U.S. medical science career to study ancient energy medicine of legendary South American shamans, True Mind), "TCM Greatest Classic Legends" four four-movie sets featuring Judy Garland, Natalie Wood and Sidney Poitier, "Hellgate," "Storage 24," "The First Time," "Samson and Delilah" (1949, restored Cecil B. DeMille classic, Paramount Home Media Distribution), "Ode to Billy Joe" (1976), "Jay and Silent Bob Get Irish -- The Swearing O' the Green," "Motorway" (Hong Kong), "The Return of The Beverly Hillbillies" (1981), "Curious George Swings Into Spring" and "Red Skelton -- The Farewell Specials."
Television series: "The Real Vikings Collection" (History channel), "Pioneers of Television: Season 3" (PBS), "The Mob Doctor: The Complete Series," "Ripper Street" (BBC), "Max & Ruby: A Bunny For Every Season" (Nickelodeon), "That '70s Show -- Season 7," "That '70s Show -- Season 8," "Xena: Warrior Princess -- Season Four," "Roseanne -- Season 7," "Roseanne -- Season 8," "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: The Complete Season Two," "Doctor Who: The Ark in Space" (BBC), "Doctor Who: The Aztecs" (BBC), "Foyle's War: The Home Front Files" (sets 1-6) and "Father Dowling Mysteries: The Final Season."