Zero Dark Thirty, the big-screen movie about the pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, hits theaters nationwide Friday. Another movie about those events lands on DVD and Blu-ray three days earlier.
SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden, originally seen on National Geographic Channel, does not aim as high as Zero Dark Thirty, which boasts director Kathryn Bigelow, an Oscar winner for The Hurt Locker. But SEAL Team, directed by John Stockwell, does hope to benefit from the attention for those movies.
It is a rather straightforward and routine suspense tale, moving between the attempts by U.S. intelligence to find the terrorist mastermind and the military crew training for the moment when bin Laden could be caught and killed. The cast includes William Fichtner and Kathleen Robertson on the intelligence-gathering side and Anson Mount among the military men.
There were some complaints before the telecast about the inclusion of documentary footage of President Obama, both because the movie aired shortly before election day and because the movie was recut to add some of the footage -- the inference being that this would tilt voters toward the president. The filmmakers insisted that the changes were for the sake of realism, not politicking.
But Stockwell has acknowledged that the characters are composites, not the actual participants, and there are scenes that feel as if they could have come from a dozen other movies. Overall, there is nothing about the Obama moments that makes the movie more than an ordinary, and at times cliched, adventure.
The film is available from Anchor Bay for $19.98 on DVD and $24.99 on Blu-ray. The lone extra is a 17-minute making-of piece.
An array of television shows made their way to DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, most of them in anticipation of new seasons starting on the air. But one show that has already returned may send people to the DVD shelves to catch up: That's Dance Moms, the Lifetime series about bickering among dance teachers, mothers, and students, which stars Abby Lee Miller.
Its third-season premiere recently drew a reported 2.8 million viewers, a record for the Lifetime series. The second season arrived on DVD in two sets, Dance Moms: Season 2: Volume 1 (Lionsgate, 12 episodes) and Season 2: Volume 2 (13 episodes), each retailing for $24.98. Volume 1 includes an episode of the spin-off series Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition and some short pieces; Volume 2 adds a two-part reunion show and 20 minutes of shorts.
Other series offering new packages include Dallas: The Complete First Season (Warner, 10 episodes, $39.98 standard DVD), the updating of the classic prime-time soap, which begins a second season on TNT on Jan. 28. The first season included the return of several classic Dallas characters and actors, notably Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing. (Hagman's death last year will be addressed in the second season.)
The DVD includes several extras, including one about the making of the series, commentary on the pilot episode by two executive producers, the first day of production, and cast members reminiscing about the "who shot J.R.?" phenomenon from the original series.
Also on the TV side are Enlightened: The Complete First Season (HBO, 10 episodes, $39.98 DVD, $49.99 Blu-ray/ DVD combo), the Laura Dern series returning to HBO on Sunday; Anger Management: Season One (Lionsgate, 10 episodes, about $30 for either Blu-ray or DVD), the Charlie Sheen comedy resuming on FX on Jan. 17, and Smash: Season One (Universal, 15 episodes, $59.98 DVD only), back on NBC on Feb. 5.
On the TV-movie front, Game Change finally makes it to video (HBO, $19.97 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray). Based on the book of the same name, the film dramatized the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate in 2008, and her ensuing campaign. It won five Emmys, including for best movie or miniseries, and for best actress in a movie or mini -- Julianne Moore as Palin.
As I said when the movie aired in March, it's a good story and well acted. But the movie feels very careful, as if it was written and produced with the awareness that Palin would have lawyers checking every scene. I also still wish that someone would adapt the other half of the book -- dealing with the rise of President Obama and his primary battle with Hillary Clinton.
Extras on Game Change include a discussion of the making of the film, and a group of political experts describing the sort of character needed to run for president.
Down video road
Flight, the drama featuring an excellent Denzel Washington performance, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on Feb. 5. That same date brings a 40th-anniversay Blu-ray set of Cabaret, the musical starring Liza Minnelli. End of Watch, the acclaimed police drama, hits both formats Jan. 22.