Contact for $4.99 The opening and closing moments of Robert (Forrest Gump) Zemeckis’s Contact astonish viewers with the sort of breathtaking conceptual imagery one hardly ever sees in movies these days–each is an expression of the heroine’s lifelong quest (both spiritual and scientific) to explore the meaning of human existence through contact with extraterrestrial life. The movie begins by soaring far out into space, then returns dizzyingly to earth until all the stars in the heavens condense into the sparkle in one little girl’s eye. It ends with that same girl as an adult (Jodie Foster)–her search having taken her to places beyond her imagination–turning her gaze inward and seeing the universe in a handful of sand. Contact traces the journey between those two visual epiphanies. Based on Carl Sagan’s novel, Contactis exceptionally thoughtful and provocative for a big-budget Hollywood science fiction picture, with elements that recall everything from 2001 to The Right Stuff. Foster’s solid performance (and some really incredible alien hardware) keep viewers interested, even when the story skips and meanders, or when the halo around the golden locks of rising-star-of-a-different-kind Matthew McConaughey (as the pure-Hollywood-hokum love interest) reaches Milky Way-level wattage. Ambitious, ambiguous, pretentious, unpredictable–Contact is all of these things and more. Much of it remains open to speculation and interpretation, but whatever conclusions one eventually draws, Contact deserves recognition as a rare piece of big-budget studio filmmaking on a personal scale. –Jim Emerson
Legend of the Guardians-Owls of Ga’hoole (Two-Disc Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray Combo) for $14.99 Acclaimed filmmaker Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) makes his animation debut with this fantasy adventure based on the beloved books by Kathryn Lasky. Young owl Soren marvels at his father’s epic stories of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, mythic winged warriors who fought a great battle to save all owl kind from the evil Pure Ones. When he and brother Kludd fall from their treetop home and into the talons of the Pure Ones, it’s up to Soren to make a daring escape with the help of other brave owls. Together they seek the Great Tree, home of the Guardians – the only hope of defeating the Pure Ones and saving the owl kingdoms. The stellar voice cast includes Abbie Cornish, Miriam Margolyes, Helen Mirren, Sam Neill, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess and Hugo Weaving.
Yes Man for $5.99 Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel. A recently divorced man attends a self-help seminar to try and start his new life with a more positive attitude. But when he makes a promise to himself to be a yes” man for a whole year, the results start at hilarious and get funnier.
Where the Wild Things Are for $5.99 “Let the wild rumpus start!” Nine-year-old Max runs away from home and sails across the sea to become king of the land Where the Wild Things Are. King Max rules a wondrous realm of gigantic fuzzy monsters–but being king may not be as carefree as it looks! Filmmaker Spike Jonze directs a magical, visually astonishing film version of Maurice Sendak’s celebrated children’s classic, starring an amazing cast of screen veterans and featuring young Max Records in a fierce and sensitive performance as Max. Explore the joyous, complicated and wildly imaginative wild rumpus of the time and place we call childhood.
Wolfgang Petersen (In the Line of Fire) made his first English-language film with this 1984 fantasy about a boy (Barret Oliver) visualizing the stories of a book he’s reading. The imagined tale involves another boy, a warrior (Noah Hathaway), and his efforts to save the empire of Fantasia from a nemesis called the Nothing. Whether or not the scenario sticks in the memory, what does linger are the unique effects, which are not quite like anything else. Plenty of good fairy-tale characters and memorable scenes, and the film even encourages kids to read. –Tom Keogh
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