Baby Mama” DVD, Blu-ray:
Goes down like a tall bottle of warm Similac — and that’s a good thing. Tina Fey is Kate Holbrook, a successful, 37-year-old businesswoman living the high life with a barren womb. Since she can’t have children, she goes to an agency that specializes in connecting people like her to surrogate mothers like Angie (Amy Poehler). The agency is run by the unusually fertile Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver), who devises for these two a plan that will mean tens of thousands of dollars to Angie, the same to Chaffee and a child for Kate. But at what additional cost to Kate? Turns out it’s higher than expected, particularly since Angie isn’t exactly the cultured woman Chaffee promised. Instead, she’s a crude, combative mess, the sort of person not above relieving herself in the bathroom sink if the toilet happens to be unavailable. Though the movie never reaches its full comedic potential — it’s too broad and too nice to really go for the rowdier laughs — it still is fun, mostly thanks to the irrepressible Poehler. Rated PG-13. Grade: B
“The Forbidden Kingdom” DVD, Blu-ray:
The movie wouldn’t be much without its superb martial arts sequences, so it is good to report that “Kingdom” isn’t just filled with them, but that each fight was choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, the best martial arts fight choreographer in the business. What he brings to the film is a thrill that rises to the promise boasted in the movie’s marquee names — Jackie Chan and Jet Li. For the first time in their careers, these two modern-day kings of martial arts cinema take to the screen together, and while the story and the script sometimes let them down, that never is the case when Wo Ping designs for them one of his gravity-defying battles. With its echoes of “The Karate Kid” and “The Wizard of Oz,” the movie begins on shaky ground with John Fusco’s script generating cringe-inducing dialogue in its strained opening moments. But while none of this is new and the acting can be an abomination, the production values are excellent (the film was shot in China), the villains are sufficiently nasty, and Chan and Li share an extended, memorable fight scene that’s something to behold. Rated PG-13. Grade: B-
“Grey’s Anatomy: Complete Fourth Season” DVD, Blu-ray: After the weak third season, which bumped headlong into walls with scripts that stumbled blindly down dim corridors, this abbreviated fourth season is a nice return to form, even if it was stymied by the writers strike. The focus is on Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), who is in an intense relationship with surgeon Derek Shepherd (Maine native Patrick Dempsey), and who, like him, must mine the personalities surrounding her from Izzie (Katherine Heigl), Alex (Justin Chambers), Cristina (Sandra Oh) and George (T.R. Knight) to several newcomers. With Isaiah Washington now out of the picture, what becomes clearer in this season is that “Anatomy” is increasingly becoming more about Meredith and company. She’s still the glue, but as the hospital becomes more crowded with interns, she’s also less the focus. Grade: B-
“Kill Bill: Vol. 1” Blu-ray:
An outrageous tour-de-force in which Uma Thurman resurrects her career as The Bride, a woman so wronged by the mysterious Bill, she’s now waging a bloody act of revenge that leaves nobody standing. As directed by Quentin Tarrantino, “Kill Bill” is a collision of East-West sensibilities. It’s exceedingly violent, a movie so determined to offer style over substance, that its success in doing so isn’t just commercialism for the sake of commercialism. It’s pop art for the sake of art. Rated R. Grade A
“Kill Bill: Vol. 2” Blu-ray:
A less violent, less successful, more introspective movie that finds The Bride (Uma Thurman) now out to kill the beer-bloated Sidewinder (Michael Madsen), California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah), and, of course, Bill (David Carradine), who is the father of The Bride’s child. The film is at its best while in the throes of action, particularly in two superb fight sequences that are jaw-dropping in their detail and the rush they offer. The cast also is appealing, particularly Hannah, who makes for a great villain, and Carradine and Thurman, whose relationship comes to a head. Still, there’s no denying that this is the downside of a two-part story, and too often it feels restricted, as if Tarantino let the air out of his chic, retro rooms. Heavy on self-conscious chatter, it lacks the first film’s consistent leaps of faith into other genres — grindhouse chief among them — where style and homage not only ruled over substance, but won. Rated R. Grade: B
“Superman Returns” Blu-ray:
Some might wonder why the old bird bothered. Newly remastered on Blu-ray disc, this glossy, special effects-heavy movie has a few sparks, but mostly it misses the sense of fun, danger and sustained energy it needed to fully captivate and entertain. As Superman, newcomer Brandon Routh is a likable prop, but he’s better designed for photography than for delivering feeling and personality. He generates some heat with Lois (Kate Bosworth), but only passing tension with Kevin Spacey’s Lex Luthor. Parker Posey has a showy go of it in an underused turn as Luthor’s flighty girlfriend and the movie does a fair job assembling its familiar parts, but when you add up all the opportunities it misses along the way, the idea that Superman returned hardly is enough. Rated: PG-13. Grade: C+
Also on DVD and Blu-ray disc:
Those seeking better returns on their Superman dollar should turn to the seventh season of “Smallville,” just out on DVD and Blu-ray disc and which features two Supermans, only one of whom is the real thing. The other is somebody named Bizarro from something called the Phantom Zone, and let’s just say that he and Superman (Tom Welling) don’t exactly get along. This season also features the arrival of Supergirl (Laura Vandervoort), who zips in by spaceship, lays Lois Lane (Erica Durance) flat, and adds new zest to a show that was starting to feel its age two seasons ago. The third season of “Ghost Whisperer” is available with Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Melinda Gordon talking to the dead in ways that the actress might soon be talking to her own career if the show doesn’t pull itself together and improve. While this season does tone down the treacly sentiment of previous seasons, Hewitt’s limitations as an actress have yet to be overcome. Not so for Patricia Arquette in the fourth season of “Medium,” a superior series in which Arquette’s Allison Dubois, a psychic, solves crimes with the assistance of her unsettling dreams. It’s this season in which Allison is outed as a psychic (where’s the support group for that?) with the invasive fallout deepening her already complex character. Two other crime-related shows are recommended, the best of which is the sixth season of “CSI: Miami” with David Caruso and crew keeping the series nicely on edge — there’s no screen fatigue here. Same goes for the third season of “Criminal Minds,” in which Joe Mantegna’s David Rossi leads a crack team of FBI profilers whose personal lives, as with so many of these crime-related shows, are embroiled in the sort of turmoil few ever would want to face — unless, of course, it’s on their television sets in the comfort of their own living rooms.
WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and archive of hundreds of movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.