DVD releases

“The Hunger Games”

A teenage girl (Jennifer Lawrence) must participate in a fight to the death.

The film features high-tension action that eclipses the “Twilight” films and has more magical character development than the “Harry Potter” series, making it a prime contender for the next great film series. This is that rare case of a movie that will please lovers of the book as well as those who have never heard of it.

There is no young actor who has the ability to handle both the physical and emotional challenges of the role as well as Lawrence. Her acting is so honest that every emotion resonates with a truthfulness that compels us to watch. Whether she is faking a romance to earn favor among the viewers or mourning the death of a competitor, her work is less a performance and more a spiritual, emotional and physical metamorphosis.

Grade: A

“The Dictator”

A dictator (Sacha Baron Cohen) tries to keep democracy from coming to his oppressed country. Cohen’s latest unabashed leap into the world of political incorrectness is so off-color, vulgar and frat-boy funny that there is a tendency to want to apologize for laughing.

Don’t hang your head in shame. The film works both as a sneaky political satire and as a raunchy over-the-top comedy.

Grade: B

Also new

“Bernie”: An assistant funeral director befriends the town’s least favorite citizen. Jack Black stars.

“NCIS: The Ninth Season”: Mark Harmon stars.

“Revenge: The Complete First Season”: Madeleine Stowe stars in the prime-time soap opera.

“Good Will Hunting”: The 15th anniversary edition is on Blu-ray.

Rick Bentley, The Fresno Bee (Fresno, Calif.)

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