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DVDs In Brief: October 20, 2010

The Predator series has already been strip-mined for two features, two Aliens crossovers, and countless comic books and other media; the franchise seemingly has no creative life left. But the reboot has an intriguingly pulpy premise: What if Earth’s greatest hunters were turned into unwilling huntees in the Predators’ most dangerous game? Too bad the passable Predators (Fox) doesn’t have any sense of humor about it…

Nicole Holofcener’s ongoing exploration of the minor existential crises of upper-middle-class white people continues with Please Give (Sony), a wry, beautifully observed comedy-drama. Catherine Keener stars as the guilt-stricken proprietor of an upscale resale store, and the film focuses on her and husband Oliver Platt dealing with the granddaughters (Rebecca Hall and Amanda Peet) of her irritable old next-door neighbor, whose apartment they want to snap up to build an addition to their condo…

Parents looking to educate their children on sea life will likely be disappointed by Oceans (Buena Vista), the latest Earth Day documentary from the Disneynature label. But parents who want their children to appreciate art will find plenty to admire in the film, which was co-directed by Jacques Perrin, the Frenchman responsible for the similarly beautiful bird odyssey Winged Migration. Through his lens, things as plain as a crustacean eggs become a crystalline planet…

Given the current political climate, it's certainly possible that someone dedicated both to history and to layered, nuanced depth could have crafted an intelligent polemic out of the story of the ancient Roman astronomer Hypatia, an obscure martyr to an era when pagans and Christians clashed for control of the Roman Empire. But the barely released Agora (Lionsgate) fumbles on all counts with its broad, shallow, hand-wringing version of the story, which discounts history and storytelling logic alike in its rush to mine emotion out of the story. Rachel Weisz makes for a sympathetic, dedicated Hypatia, but the silly shrillness of the film around her does her no favors.