Clockwise from upper left: 'Tropic Thunder,' 'Wall-E,' 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2,' ' Encounters at the End of the World'

A personal checklist and shopping guide:

As with all great movies, I quickly forgot about everything except the characters and the story. Wall-E sparked some surprising political and sociological debates, but no one can deny the sense of wonder that the boxy robot and his adventures engender. Erik's already run down the special features; the toughest decision is which editon to get. Buy it.

Tropic Thunder
I skipped this one theatrically because I'm worn out on Hollywood self-mockery -- has any other industry ever found itself so simultaneously fascinating yet repulsive? Still, reviews were generally strong, and this is the best bet this week for a broad, R-rated comedy, as long as you haven't overdosed on Ben Stiller and Jack Black. Does Robert Downey, Jr. make it all worthwhile? Rent it.

Encounters at the End of the World
Speaking of something simultaneously fascinating yet repulsive, Werner Herzog traveled to the Antarctic to make a personal essay assailing the ugliness of the man-made town from which all journeys Seriously Down Under begin, and questions the sanity of some of the people who work there. Then the beauty of the place overwhelms everything, before Werner starts asking about the sex life of penguins to liven up an interview. Oh, Werner! Rent it.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2
Girl power got a kick in the, er, pants, with this sequel, which takes place in a fantasy land of upper class privilege masquerading as lower middle class struggles. No doubt some will take me to task for missing the moral message which is rolled up somewhere inside the pretty scenery and prettier tears; I admit I dozed off a couple of times. In a weird way, this could be a good contrasting double-bill with Twilight. Under 18? Rent it.

categories DVDs, Cinematical