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posted: 10/26/2013 6:00 AM

DVD previews: 'Monsters University' and 'R.I.P.D.'

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  • In Pixar's "Monsters University," Sully (John Goodman) chases after his fraternity brother Mike (Billy Crystal) during the Scare Games.

    In Pixar's "Monsters University," Sully (John Goodman) chases after his fraternity brother Mike (Billy Crystal) during the Scare Games.

The Washington Post

Here's a look at DVDs coming out Tuesday, Oct. 29:

"Monsters University" (G, 103 minutes, Disney): Pixar has a solid track record when it comes to sequels. But until "Monsters University," set several years before "Monsters, Inc.," the animation shop had never attempted a prequel. The characters Mike (voice of Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are funny enough to make the back story worth telling. Set at the titular Monsters University, the film is the story of how freshmen monsters Mike and Sulley -- aspiring students of the fine art of scaring -- met and became friends. "Monsters University" gets under way when Mike, the tiny, Cyclopean cue ball, and Sulley, the jumbo-size, furry blue beast, are both kicked out of MU's scaring department. To get back in, Mike and Sulley team with a fraternity of misfits to compete in the Scare Games. Contains brief, mild spookiness. Extras include commentary and "The Blue Umbrella" animated short. Also, on Blu-ray: "Campus Life" featurette; "Story School" making-of featurette; "Scare Games" and "Welcome to MU" featurettes; "Music Appreciation" documentary on Randy Newman's scores; behind-the-scenes with the animators, and other cast and technical featurettes; and deleted scenes.

"R.I.P.D." (PG-13, 96 minutes, Universal): This comic book-based dud succeeds neither as the comedy nor the action film it purports to be. Ryan Reynolds plays Nick, the newbie, and Jeff Bridges takes the role of his partner, Roy, in the Rest in Peace Department. They meet when Nick is sucked into a CGI vortex just after his evil partner, Bobby (Kevin Bacon, playing the caricature of a villain), offs him. The first few minutes of the movie, Reynolds does what he does best: toss off sardonic one-liners. But as soon as Nick meets his new partner, it's the Roy Show. The problem is that Roy is not nearly as funny as the movie's writers think he is. Contains action, violence and language. Extras include deleted and alternate scenes, gag reel and making-of featurette. Also, on Blu-ray: alternate openings, "R.I.P.D Motion Comics: Bringing the Avatars to Life" and four other making-of featurettes.

"Byzantium" (R, 118 minutes, MPI Home Video): The human-vampire romance at the center of "Byzantium" has less in common with emotional roller-coaster "Twilight" than with the sweet but creepy relationship in "Let the Right One In." Like that 2008 Swedish film, "Byzantium" is about the friendship between a gawky human boy and a preternaturally poised teenage vampire girl. The marvelous Saoirse Ronan plays Eleanor, the undead adolescent bloodsucker whose narration guides the moody and visually stylish film by Neil Jordan. For two centuries, Eleanor has been forced to move from town to town, accompanied by her mother, Clara (Gemma Arterton), whenever too many dead bodies start piling up. Still, Eleanor doesn't cruelly murder humans; she gets their permission before drinking their blood, seeking out mainly the elderly and the infirm. Clara, too, has her own idiosyncratic moral code. The mother-and-daughter relationship is just as interesting as -- and a lot more fraught than -- the one between Eleanor and Frank (Caleb Landry Jones), the sickly teen who she befriends at a British seaside resort. Contains violence, blood and gore, obscenity and sex. Extras include cast and crew interviews.

Also: "Necessary Evil: Super-Villains of DC Comics," "American Experience: War of the Worlds" (PBS documentary), "Free Samples," "La Notte" (1961, The Criterion Collection), "Margarita," and "Line of Duty Series 1, Masters of Money" (BBC documentary that explores the lives of influential economists, Athena), "Heartland Christmas" (2010) and "Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday."

Television series: "Damages: The Complete Series," "Family Tree: First Season," "Agatha Christie's Poirot Series 9" (four feature-length British TV mysteries, Acorn Media) and "Cook's Country, Season 6."

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