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DVDs In Brief

Pixar's CGI romp WALL-E (Disney) brought in almost exactly as much dough in its domestic opening weekend as the new Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, which is dispiriting, since the latter is a lazy reiteration of its prequel, while WALL-E is an unambiguous delight, an ambitious off-the-wall slapstick comedy that manages to be sweet and sincere at the same time, while reveling in Pixar's usual strict attention to detail and quality. Hopefully it'll win out over its inferiors on DVD, where it's available in one, two, and three-disc variations…

Ben Stiller's late-summer hit Tropic Thunder (Paramount) breaks the long-standing 1941 rule that says that the bigger the cast and the more money thrown at a comedy, the less successful it will be. Actually, Tropic Thunder's size is probably what's holding it back from greatness, but its unwieldy girth doesn't crush the many hilarious elements keeping it afloat, including a brilliant Robert Downey Jr. as the ultimate Method actor, a belligerent (and nearly unrecognizable) Tom Cruise as a steamed-up movie executive, and Stiller's "full retard" performance in Simple Jack

Few people besides great German documentarian and adventurer Werner Herzog would complain that an American outpost at the South Pole is too cushy and commercialized. Traveling to this extreme location on commission for the National Science Foundation, Herzog seems more at home when conditions get ugly, or when he comes across eccentric people and amazing sights. Encounters At The End Of The World (Image) lacks the clarity of purpose that marks his best documentaries, but Herzog's sheer curiosity is infectious…


Gonzo: The Life And Work Of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Magnolia) offers a crash course intro to the unconventional journalist that's affectionate without overlooking his flaws. Director Alex Gibney (Taxi To The Dark Side) spends plenty of time with Thompson's rise and early triumphs (Hell's Angels, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas) but doesn't forgive the man his later years, when he wrote very little and spent too much time in inner space. But who else could inspire everyone from Johnny Depp to Jimmy Carter into showing up to pay homage?

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 (Warner Bros.) deepens the dark shades of the original as Batman (Christian Bale) finds himself in a deadly game with a foe (the late Heath Ledger) who uses the whole city as the stake… Wait. That's Dark Knight, isn't it? Is that on DVD yet?

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