RT on DVD & Blu-Ray: This Is the End, The Croods, and More

We run down the most notable home video releases in film and television.

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This week on home video, we've got an irreverent end-of-the-world comedy, an animated prehistoric adventure, a serial killer thriller, and classic film anniversary. On the TV side, there's a popular period drama from the UK and a couple of 1980s classics. Then, of course, we've got a slew of other notable titles, including a beloved Disney film and a couple of films from WB's deep catalog. Read on for the full list:

This Is the End

83%

Is it a stoner comedy about the power of bromantic love? Is it a twisted take on the apocalypse and its biblical implications? Or is it an excuse for Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel to hang out with their funnyman friends and make fun of each other? Why not all three? Penned by Rogen and frequent writing partner Evan Goldberg, This Is the End is also the duo's directorial debut, and critics say it's a pretty solid effort. Playing exaggerated versions of themselves, Rogen and Baruchel reconnect after falling out of touch and decide to attend a housewarming party thrown by James Franco. When Los Angeles suddenly descends into chaos, they hole up in Franco's home with Craig Robinson, Danny McBride, and Jonah Hill, hoping to survive long enough to be rescued. Filled with celebrity cameos, hilarious self-deprecating humor, and energetic performances, The Is the End managed to impress critics to the tune of a Certified Fresh 84 percent. Its story might be a little unfocused, but you'll probably be laughing too much to care.

The Croods

70%

March is kind of a crap shoot for movie releases, parked right between the studio leftovers of January and February and the bigger pre-Summer releases of April, but The Croods beat the odds with a 69 percent on the Tomatometer. The DreamWorks animated film features Emma Stone as the voice of Eep, an adventurous cavegirl whose overprotective father Grug (Nicolas Cage) constantly preaches against the dangers of all things new and unfamiliar. When Eep befriends a stranger named Guy (Ryan Reynolds), Grug disapproves, but an impending disaster forces them to work together for survival. Critics largely agreed that the visuals on display were top notch, and even if the central plot wasn't the most sophisticated bit of storytelling, most found it enjoyable and entertaining enough for the whole family. Side note: The Croods is also available this week in a special package that includes a stuffed toy of Guy's pet sloth Belt.

The Frozen Ground

60%

Back when Nicolas Cage and John Cusack were both making names for themselves during the 1980s, a man named Robert Hansen was stalking, kidnapping, and murdering women up in Alaska. Thankfully, one of Hansen's victims escaped, and thanks in part to her firsthand account, a local detective brought him to justice. Scott Walker's The Frozen Ground recounts the events that led to Hansen's capture, with Cusack as the slippery serial killer, Cage as Sgt. Jack Holcombe, and Vanessa Hudgens as Cindy Paulson, the 17-year-old who managed to break free from Hansen's clutches. Though critics found the film relatively formulaic, most thought Nicolas Cage did an admirable job. At 57 percent on the Tomatometer, it's not the most gripping or inventive psychological thriller, but it'll probably make a decent rental.

The Wizard of Oz: 75th Anniversary Edition

99%

Though we're still a little less than a year away from the official date, Warner Bros. has already begun the celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, beginning with a theatrical rerelease last June and a subsequent IMAX 3D release just this past September. With that in mind, WB is also offering up a few 75th Anniversary Edition packages this week, the greatest of which is an impressive Limited Collector's Edition. The LCE includes the film in every format (DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, Ultraviolet) and most of the extras found on the previous 70th Anniversary Edition, but also features an all new feature-length making-of documentary and several collectibles, like a map of Oz, a hardcover journal, a set of pins, a photo book, a sparkly ruby slippers snow globe, and more. It may make for a nice -- and not altogether too expensive --holiday gift for an Oz superfan.

Downton Abbey - 3 Season Box Set

78%

Series 4 of the acclaimed Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning drama Downtown Abbey returned to television last week in the UK, but those of us in the States won't be getting it until January when it airs on PBS. In the meantime, you can always rewatch the first three seasons, available this week in either a DVD or Blu-ray box set. The set includes the Christmas special from the second season and the third season finale, plus bonus features, and if you're not particularly picky where you get it, you'll be interested to know that the set available on Amazon comes with some exclusive extras. These include a sneak peak of Series 4, as well as brand new cast interviews and almost a half hour of never-before-seen deleted scenes. That should stave off the withdrawal jitters for a while.

Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Series

Angela Lansbury boasts an accomplished resume on both stage and screen, but she's probably best known as Jessica Fletcher, the retired teacher-cum-mystery novelist-cum-crime solver who propelled Murder, She Wrote to immediate and long lived success. The series, which ran for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996 and spawned a spinoff and four TV movies, is available this week in a complete DVD set containing all 264 episodes on 63 discs. Unfortunately, the TV movies are not included, and there isn't much information about any special features, so it's probably safe to assume it's a no-frills collection. Still, it's a decent pickup for anyone who wants it all in one place.

Magnum, P.I.: The Complete Series

Murder, She Wrote is joined this week by one of its CBS contemporaries (there were actually two crossover episodes), another detective show with a slightly cheekier tone. Magnum, P.I. ran from 1980 to 1988 and centered around Thomas Sullivan Magnum (Tom Selleck), a private investigator living in Hawaii at the behest of a reclusive novelist (voiced by Orson Welles, incidentally) and working cases alongside the rather uptight Higgins (John Hillerman), an ex-British Army officer. All 162 episodes are included here, along with the content previously available on the individual season releases. The only drawback here is, like Murder, She Wrote, the set is only available on DVD, but if you can't get enough of Tom Selleck's mustache and the killer theme song, this is a pretty solid pickup.

Also available this week:

  • An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (84%), an experimental indie drama chronicling a relationship between a young man and woman through live action and animated sequences.
  • Disney releases a Diamond Edition of The Little Mermaid (91%), available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D.
  • The 1953 horror original House of Wax (94%), starring Vincent Price, arrives on Blu-ray 3D.
  • King Vidor's 1925 silent film The Big Parade (100%), is also available on Blu-ray.
  • Another 1953 film, the classic romance From Here to Eternity (89%), starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Deborah Kerr, is available on Blu-ray.
  • Season 2 of New Girl (87%).
  • Season 4 of Glee (75%).
  • Season 8 of popular CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother (44%).

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