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‘Titanic,’ ‘What To Expect,’ more on DVD and Blu-ray

By Rich Heldenfels, Akron Beacon Journal –

One of the most lucrative movies of all time is about to pull even more bucks from your pockets.

It’s James Cameron’s “Titanic,” second only to Cameron’s “Avatar” in U.S. and worldwide box-office returns, and fifth all-time even when you adjust for inflation, according to Box Office Mojo.

The romantic drama makes its Blu-ray debut on Monday — breaking the customary pattern of Tuesday debuts — in several packages: a four-disc set with the film on 3-D Blu-ray and 2-D Blu-ray (Paramount, $44.99); a four-disc set with the 2-D Blu-ray and standard DVD ($39.99); and a two-disc, standard DVD set.

As you would expect from Cameron, whose pursuit of technological perfection is long-standing, the Blu-ray looks amazing. I froze images on a small screen and still marveled at the clarity in the small details — say, the lettering on a ship’s wheel. At times it looked as if every drop of water was individually defined.

To be sure, Cameron’s storytelling has its considerable weakness. And effects from 1997 sometimes look artificial in more recent high-definition presentation, including in some of the movie’s big ship-sinking moments. But I am hard-pressed to go back to basic DVD after seeing this on Blu-ray.

And even if you are fine with your old DVD of the movie, the new sets try to lure you with a couple of extras — a “final word” from Cameron and a piece called “Reflections on Titanic” — that together run more than 2 1/2 hours. The Blu-ray sets also include a digital copy of the movie and selected extras. The standard DVD’s only extras are deleted scenes.

A related release, coming Tuesday, is a reissue of “Ghosts of the Abyss,” Cameron’s documentary exploring the site of the real Titanic, with the 3-D version included. From Disney, the three-disc package has the 3-D Blu-ray, 2-D Blu-ray and standard DVD ($44.99). The 3-D version is the original, 60-minute production; the 2-D Blu-ray and standard DVD include that cut and a 90-?minute one.

While I thought “Snow White and the Huntsman” had its entertaining moments, it was longer than necessary. But Universal believes some of you want even more of the adventure. The new video releases (Universal, $29.98 DVD, $34.98 Blu-ray/DVD combo) accordingly include the original film and an “extended edition” that is four minutes longer.

The film stars Kristen Stewart as Snow White, Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman and Charlize Theron as the Wicked Queen, really the best role in the “Snow White” tale. Extras include a digital copy in the Blu-ray combo, profiles of the characters, a set tour and audio commentary.

And, of course, some of you will try to see whether Rupert Sanders’ direction is especially kind to Stewart, since she and the married director had a fling which, after it became public, wrecked her relationship with “Twilight” co-star Robert Pattinson. In fact, quite a few tabloids have already dipped into the audio commentary to note all the times Sanders sings Stewart’s praises.

I wish I could sing the praises of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (Lionsgate, $29.95 DVD, $39.95 Blu-ray), the ensemble comedy with Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Anna Kendrick, Matthew Morrison, Dennis Quaid and many others.

Based on the best-selling book, this tale of five couples on the road to parenthood had plenty of performers who are reliable comedic pros, including Banks, Chris Rock and Tom Lennon. But scenes repeatedly fell flat, or offered a glimmer of possibility, only to fall flat, or proved to have nothing beyond a snippet for the movie’s trailer. I kept waiting for it to get better. It proved too long a wait.

Down video road: Start the countdown. All four of the “Indiana Jones” movies arrive on Blu-ray on Sept. 18, which is three-fourths of good news.

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