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New on DVD: “X-Men: First Class” and “Hanna” — September 6, 2011

Mutants save the world and a killer girl goes on the run; X-Men: First Class creates a 1960s back story for Xavier’s future battling mutants, while in Hanna a girl is hunted down by secret agents who don’t know who they’re up against; these and other films coming this week to Blu-ray and DVD.

X-Men: First Class
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After a widely acknowledged franchise letdown in X-Men: The Last Stand, director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) reinvigorates the comic series with an origin story about the roots of Professor Xavier (James McAvoy) and Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) differences set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Many new mutants are introduced, and Kevin Bacon gets to play a Nazi villain. Our writer said that it smartly “debates the ideas of segregation, acceptance, and tolerance between humans and mutants” while never forgetting its duties as a summer popcorn thriller. Available September 9.

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Atonement director Joe Wright reunites with that film’s pre-adolescent star Saoirse Ronan for a fairy tale-styled thriller about a young girl (Ronan) raised by her father (Eric Bana) to be an unstoppable killing machine. When a soulless government agency comes for her, they find out just how good her training was, and the chase is on. Cate Blanchett also stars as the embodiment of villainy. “On a purely physical level,” our critic wrote, “Hanna grabs you by the throat and never lets go.”

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Like Jim Carey, Will Ferrell can also be perfectly credible in dramatic
roles. Unlike Carey, though, Ferrell’s serious turns have so far been in
small-focus indies like this one, where he plays Nick, a just-fired
recovering alcoholic whose wife has thrown him and all his possessions
out onto the front lawn. “With nowhere to go and no means of emotional
support,” our critic wrote, “Nick crawls into a case of Pabst Blue
Ribbon, waiting for what he believes is the inevitable.” Although our
critic was only somewhat pleased with Ferrell’s performance, he found it
a nice overall addition to this “good-natured slice of specialized
life” (based on a Raymond Carver short story) that “doesn’t mumble its
way into meaning or announce its outsider intentions with glib
arrogance.”

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Has Universal run out of ways to repackage and market its blood-drenched
1983 gangster “classic” Scarface? Based on this new “Limited Edition
Steelbook” case with Blu-ray and digital copies, it appears the answer
is no. Our critic found it “bloated” and “self-important.” Many fans
disagree, as the film’s continual reissuing attests to.
 

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