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Published: Sunday, 12/28/2008

Comebacks: AC/DC, Mickey Rourke are back

GUNS N' ROSES: After spending oodles of money and 15 years, a strangely cornrowed Axl Rose came back with what he called Guns N' Roses, except he was the only former Gunner involved. No Slash, no Duff, no Izzy.The album "Chinese Democracy" actually received pretty solid reviews and it entered the Billboard charts at No. 3 even though plenty of critics were prepared to dis it. - R.L.

AC/DC: These Aussies have a foolproof formula: grind out classic rock-and- roll riffs that invert and subvert the Chuck Berry originals, crank it up really loud, and take nothing seriously. And with "Black Ice" AC/DC proved for the umpteenth time that it sells as rock fans gobbled it up, even though the band hadn't put out a new album in eight years. - R.L.

BRITNEY SPEARS: She's outta rehab, her dad is minding her business, and now that she's got her rock-hard abs back no one's making fun of her bod. It's the return of Britney with her new "Circus" disc and a video where she appears discreetly (kind of) naked. She still sings the same, which is a mixed blessing. - R.L.

ROBERT DOWNEY, JR.: Entertainment Weekly proclaimed the actor its entertainer of the year. In fact, Downey's comeback - the blockbuster Iron Man, a hilarious turn in Tropic Thunder - is one for the ages. About the only negative to his year was the delayed release of The Soloist, starring Downey and Jamie Foxx, which was pushed back from a November opening to March. Downey's story is proof that addicts can overcome their demons, and a reminder of the gifted talent that Hollywood nearly lost. - K.B.

BLU-RAY: OK, Blu-Ray was always the favorite to emerge victorious in the great format war of 2007, which proved to be less a war than a brief high-tech skirmish. Despite the gloomy economy, Blu-Ray sales continue to rise and the future seems 1080p bright for the high-def format. That is, until high-def movies can be effectively streamed online to everyone. - K.B.

MICKEY ROURKE: No one's ever doubted the actor's talent; it was his film choices and behavior that got him into trouble - don't forget Rourke was a force to be reckoned with in the 1980s. In The Wrestler the 52-year-old actor proved he can own the screen again. Let's hope this comeback lasts longer than his "first" triumphant return to acting nearly four years ago in Sin City. - K.B.



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