This week’s new DVD releases have everything from dragons to frogs.
—“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Grade A-minus: A reporter and a hacker look into a 40-year-old case.
The main reason director David Fincher’s film works is Rooney Mara brings the same fire, insanity and emotional combustibility to the role as when Noomi Rapace originally played Lisbeth Salander on screen. The complexities of this character — an emotionally battered ward of the state who is a computer whiz — aren’t for the faint of acting heart.
It requires a complete transformation into a character who is dark enough to torture her rapist but still comes across as vulnerable enough to justify her actions.
—“The Muppets,” Grade A: The gang must get back together to save their theater. If you’re looking for something for the whole family to enjoy, “The Muppets” is a marvelous choice.
What makes the film work is director James Bobin. He guides the gang through the story using the same template that made the TV show so good. The fourth wall is broken as characters repeatedly reference being in a movie.
Bobin dots the film with big-name guest stars in cameo roles, just as in the series. The actors in the film often look both excited and a little hesitant to trade lines with a handful of cloth and cotton. Jack Black, who could very well be a living Muppet, seems the most comfortable.
The return of Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang to the big screen means nostalgic comfort for adults and a rowdy fun time for kids. It’s wocka, wocka wonderful.
—“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” Grade A-minus: This smart adaptation of John le Carré’s complicated Cold War novel is an example of a production that gets its power from quiet moments.
Gary Oldman’s controlled and brilliant performance and director Tomas Alfredson’s direction elevate this tale of a disgraced British spy who returns to the job to find a mole far above the normal spy thriller.
The film works despite major cuts to the original story. Reducing le Carré’s complicated tale to a workable length meant several characters were diminished or completely eliminated. The writers keep a tight focus on the central storyline so the missing players and plot points aren’t missed.
The quiet power of Alfredson’s direction, the controlled but brilliant performance by Oldman, and a smart adaptation of the original story makes “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” a production that proves movies that have something to say don’t have to shout to be heard.
Also new this week:
“Carnage”: Meeting to settle a dispute explodes into a verbal battle. Jodie Foster stars.
“Hey Arnold: Season 2, Part 1”: Arnold and Gerald endure playground bullies, secret crushes and an alien invasion.
“B.B. King: Live at Royal Albert Hall”: Features performance by legendary guitarist B.B. King.
“Jane By Design: Volume 1”: Cable series starring Erica Dasher.
“People Are Funny”: NBC television game show hosted by Art Linkletter.
“The Adventures Of Tintin Season Two”: Includes 13 episodes of the animated series.
“Roadie”: An aging roadie (Ron Eldard) returns home.
“Adventures in Lalaloopsy Land: The Search for Pillow”: The first Lalaloopsy movie.
“Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete Third Season”: Kate Jackson plays a woman pulled into the world of spies.
“Sing-A-Long: Beatlesongs”: The DVD helps kids, as well as adults, learn the lyrics to some of The Beatles’ greatest songs.
“Mister Rogers & Me”: A look at everyone’s favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers.
“The Sitter”: Jonah Hill plays the last person who should be allowed to take care of children.
“Kojak: Season 3”: Telly Savalas stars in the TV detective series.
“Victorious: The Complete Second Season”: Cable series that follows performing arts school student.
“A Lonely Place to Die”: Hikers are pulled into a kidnapping plot. Melissa George stars.
“Battle Royale”: Futuristic tale of teens forced to fight to the death is based on the 1999 best seller by Koushun Takami.
“Wild Kratts: Predator Power”: Brings kids face-to-face with mild animals.
“The Best of Caillou: Caillou’s Outdoor Adventures”: Includes 12 adventures.