The DVD pickings are extremely slim this week, though there are some releases of note including the final 24 episodes of the cult favorite Swamp Thing series, a deluxe Collector’s Edition of the first narrative arc of The Last Airbender, Blu-ray collections of cable series Hung and Entourage, a surprisingly interesting take on the final months of a great writer’s life, more anime on Blu-ray and more bargain-priced sets.




It’s slim week in this category as well but there are two series of particular interest, the final 25 episodes of the 1990s DC Comics-based Swamp Thing series and a newly re-packaged Collector’s Edition of Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Complete Book 1.


Although Swamp Thing, which ran from 1990 to 1993, was at one time the most popular series on the USA Network, its cult status may be due to in large part to its camp value.  Whatever the reason, this series has developed a significant following and Swamp Thing: The Series Volume 3 (Shout Factory, $34.99) is a 4-disk collection that includes the final 24 episodes of the series, which are available on DVD for the very first time.


With The Last Airbender live-action movie due out in early July, the deluxe Collector’s Edition of Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Complete Book 1 (Nickelodeon, $55.98), a 7-disc compilation that includes the entire Book 1: Water saga plus an exclusive documentary about the making of the TV series and a beautifully illustrated paperback book.


Cable TV continues to be the prime venue for the most challenging and boundary-pushing series, two of which are due out this week on Blu-ray, always a sign of a high quality show with serious sales potential.  Hung: The Complete First Season (HBO, 315 min., $39.98, BD $49.99) features Thomas Jane (The Punisher) as a down-on-his-luck high school basketball coach forced by dire economic circumstances to become a male escort.  Created by Alexander Payne (Sideways), Hung is not nearly as salacious as it sounds, it’s actually closer to Breaking Bad in the way it demonstrates how economic reverses can drive behavior.


Also appearing on Tuesday is Entourage: The Complete 6th Season (HBO, 326 min., $39.98, BD $49.98), the savvy behind-the-scenes Hollywood saga, Checkmate (Timeless Media Group, 3500 min. $79.98), all 70-episodes of the stylish 1970s detective series created by Eric Ambler, Small Wonder: The Complete 2nd Season (Shout Factory, 576 min., $29.99), more of the 80s kid robot show, and Tom and Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Collection (Warner Bros., 210 min., $26.99), a collection of classic cartoons that aired on the various Tom and Jerry TV shows.




The Green Zone (Universal, “R,” $29.99, BD $39.98), which is set in the early days of the Iraq War, might have been a classic, save for director Paul Greengrass’s nausea-inducing hand-held camera work and inability to break down scenes into a rational pattern of long shots, medium shots, and close-ups.  Greengrass’s chaotic, vomit-inducing style undermines the film’s pointed narrative message about the search for phantom WMDs in Iraq and ultimately wastes strong performances from Matt Damon and Amy Ryan.  Has anyone in Hollywood actually watched the TV news shows lately where steadycam technology has eliminated the bouncy handheld camera work of 50 years ago?


Strong performances are also the hallmark of The Last Station ($27.96, BD $34.95), which features brilliant work from Christopher Plummer, Helen Mirren, James McAvoy, Kerry Condon, and Paul Giamatti.  The last months of the life of Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy might seem like an unpromising premise for an entertaining movie, but The Last Station manages to inject quite a bit of humor and no little amount of irony into a spot on examination of the battle between ideals and the practical aspects of life including the demands of family.  In The Last Station director Michael Hoffman turns what might have been a dry Hallmark Hall of Fame exercise in literary hagiography into a vital and engaging film.


She’s Out of My League (Dreamworks, “R,” $29.98, BD $39.99) is a Judd Apatow-lite romantic comedy about a nerdy beanpole of a guy played by Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder) who somehow manages to attract a very hot girl.  As is also the case in most Apatow films, the male characters in this movie are far more fully developed than the females, but if you can get past the rather obvious element of wish-fulfillment on the part of the screenwriters, She’s Out of My League delivers some real laughs.


Remember Me (Summit Entertainment, “PG-13,” $26.99, BD $34.99) demonstrates that Twilight’s Robert Patinson really can act.  This sort of morose relationship drama is clearly not for everyone, but it does have a good deal more heft than the average romantic comedy, and doesn’t wallow in sentimentality like so many 3-handkerchief movies.




Two more series are getting the Blu-ray treatment this week including Guyver: The Complete Series (Funimation, “17+,” 625 min. $54.98), a 26-episode mecha-themed series from 2005 that was originally released here by ADV, but is coming out on Blu-ray for the first time—and Guyver is the kind of modern anime series that really benefits from the Blu-ray treatment for both video and audio.


Also due out on Tuesday is the Blu-ray edition of Afro Samurai: Complete Murder Sessions (Funimation, “17+,” 325 min., $39.98), which includes both the original Afro Samurai series and the sequel Afro Samurai Resurrection.


The most interesting new series out this week is La Corda D’Oro (Sentai Filmworks, 13+, 325 min., $49.98), which is based on the shojo series by Yuki Kure, and includes the first half of the 25-episode anime adaptation that aired in Japan in 2006 and 2007.


Re-priced sets include Ah! My Goddess Season 2 Complete Collection Viridian Collection (Funimation, “13+,” 600 min., $49.98), Heroic Age Complete Series (Funimation, “13+,” 630 min., $59.98), The Anime Legends edition of Mobile Suit Gundam Trilogy (Bandai, “13+,” 441 min., $39.98), and the bargain-priced Suzuka Complete Collection S.A.V.E. Edition (Funimation, “13+,” 625 min., $19.98), which contains all 26 episodes of the 2005 anime TV series for under twenty bucks.