Craving action this week? Join up with the hard-fighting boys (and girls) in 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,' but cash in your ticket before taking a subway ride with 'The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,' both arriving on DVD this week. Plus there's 'Food, Inc.,' a documentary that lifts the veil on our nation's food industry. a href="">'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra'
What It's About: An elite, multinational military force known as the Joes (including Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans) take on the evil organization COBRA. The bad guys' secret weapon: metal-eating nanotechnology robots. The actioner, of course, is very loosely inspired by Hasbro's famous line of action figures.

It's Kinda Like: 'Starship Troopers' meets James Bond

What We Say: Slam-bam action from start to finish with wall-to-wall computer-generated special effects and plenty of hot weapons and hot bodies. Don't expect toy soldiers-come-to-life; the G.I. Joes of your childhood have morphed into GIJOE: Global Integrated Joint Operating Entity. Director Stephen Sommers ('The Mummy') throws in everything but the kitchen sink (underground headquarters, missiles, sword fights, the destruction of the Eiffel Tower).

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'The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3'
What It's About: Four heavily-armed thieves, led by John Travolta, hijack a New York subway train and demand that the city pay them $10 million or they'll start executing hostages. It's up to mild-mannered MTA dispatcher Denzel Washington to save the day and bring the bad guys to justice. Loosely based on the 1974 film starring Walter Matthau.

It's Kinda Like: 'Money Train' meets 'Speed'

What We Say: This high-concept project probably looked like the A-Train on paper but ended up riding the caboose to the big screen. Sure there's Travolta in one of his signature nasty bad-guy roles and Washington as an everyman-thrust-into-extraordinary-circumstances. And director Tony Scott plays the action to the hilt -- runaway train, car crashes, extreme violence. But the dialogue is so stilted and the situations so absurd that this outing ends up on a subway to nowhere.

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'Food, Inc.'
What It's About: An unrelenting documentary that takes a look at agribusiness and how a few corporations control most of the food that ends up on our dinner table (or fast-food restaurant), putting profits ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and the environment.

It's Kinda Like: 'Fast Food Nation' meets 'An Inconvenient Truth'

What We Say: Don't watch this acclaimed doc before or after a big meal. It's a visceral expose of big food and the way meat and vegetables make their way to market (many times not safely: witness the astounding rise of E. coli infections). The film is full of grim tales of corporate greed in the raising and slaughtering of the animals that make up our hamburgers and chicken pot pies. And full of enlightening facts: Four meatpackers control 80 percent of the beef market; farmers are subsidized to overproduce corn, etc). The documentary seems one-sided, and for good reason: officials at the companies investigated refused to rebut the filmmakers.

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Other November 3 DVD Releases:
'Aliens in the Attic'
'I Love You, Beth Cooper'
'The Answer Man'
'Command Performance'

Special Editions:
'Say Anything'
'Natural Born Killers'

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Recent DVD Recommendations
Check out previous weeks' DVD releases that get our seal of approval, including 'I Love You, Man' and 'Coraline.'
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New DVD Recommendations


    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: Alan Moore's widely celebrated graphic novel about supremely tortured superheroes gets the big screen treatment from '300' director Zack Snyder, complete with a so-not-funny Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), scene-chewing Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley), Skinemax-like sex scene and giant blue member.

    What We Say: It's flawed and indulgent, sure, but it's also one of the most original and compelling superhero movies ever made. Long called "unfilmable" because of its complex mythology and alternate time setting, Snyder pulls it off with style, sticking admirably close to the material. It is recommended you read the graphic novel first, though. Otherwise you might be a little perplexed by the giant "Blue Man Group dude" (Dr. Manhattan, whose back story doesn't come until about 30 minutes in).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Warner Bros.


    Release Date: July 21

    What It's About: When her family moves into an old house, the eponymous young girl (voiced by Dakota Fanning) discovers a portal to a parallel universe that at first seems perfect (her parents are more attentive, there's bacon sizzling on the stove, etc), but in truth is far more sinister (everyone has buttons for eyes, for one).

    It's Kind of Like: 'Pan's Labyrinth' meets 'Nightmare Before Christmas'

    What We Say: The first must-see movie of 2009, this eye-popping whirl through stop-motion animation is a meeting of two brilliant minds (writer Neil Gaiman and director Henry Selick) and remains one of the year's best. Following in the tradition of 'Nightmare' and 'Corpse Bride,' it's a gothic, trippy, oftentimes creepy (see aforementioned buttons for eyes) film that should thrill older kids and adults in equal measure.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Focus Features

    'Two Lovers'

    Release Date: June 30

    What It's About: Joaquin Phoenix is a troubled Brooklyn man who, despite a current residence in his parents house, is blessed/cursed with the difficult decision of choosing between two beautiful women (Gwyneth Paltrow and Vinessa Shaw). And yes, he raps.

    What Critics Say: Reviewers showed a lot of love for 'Two Lovers,' with the romantic drama earning an 84 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Hollywood Reporter called it "The best American drama of the year."

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD


    'Waltz With Bashir'

    Release Date: June 23

    What It's About: Having strange memory blockage surrounding his experience in the 1982 Lebanon War, an Israeli Army vet-turned-documentarian (Ari Folman) tracks down several men he served with to fill in the pieces, and then animates the results.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Persepolis' meets 'Jacob's Ladder' minus the humor and horned creatures

    What We Say: Somber and admittedly slow-paced, the film -- an Oscar favorite that lost Best Foreign Film to 'Departures' in one of the 2009 ceremony's only upsets -- is a thought-provoking examination of war and the human psyche's response to it.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Sony Classics

    'The International'

    Release Date: June 9

    What It's About: It's Clive Owen against the world as an Interpol agent who, along with the help of a US assistant district attorney (Naomi Watts), attempts to bring down a arms-dealing, globe-ruling, omnipresent network of villains otherwise known as -- you guessed it? -- bankers.

    It's Kind of Like: Clive Owen finally playing James Bond

    What We Say: Talk about a topical thriller. Who's not ready to root against bankers right now? Of course here they're not just execs taking fat bonuses while driving the economy into a recession, but murderous corporate thugs bent on global domination. So yes, 'The International' takes a bit of suspension of belief, but it's still a riveting and high-voltage thriller worth the watch.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD



    Release Date: June 2

    What It's About: When the Nazis invade town and kill their parents, the Bielski brothers (Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell) escape to the Belarussian forest, where they exact some brief revenge before forming a safe camp for other Jewish escapees.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Schindler's List' meets 'The Dirty Dozen'

    What We Say: Nobody does war like director Ed Zwick ('Glory,' 'Courage Under Fire,' 'Blood Diamond'). Despite its conventions, 'Defiance' is a powerful and moving epic that deserved more love when it opened last December (the film scored a modest 56 percent approval rating from critics on RottenTomatoes).

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Paramount Vantage

    'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'

    Release Date: May 5

    What It's About: A New Orleans man (Brad Pitt) who miraculously ages in reverse, growing from naïve elder into relatively normal "middle-aged" period into a senile little boy. Sad as it may be, hey, at least he's got the impossibly handsome looks of Brad Pitt.

    It's Kind of Like: 'Forrest Gump' meets 'Cocoon'

    What We Say: So long as you don't mind the epic 166-minute runtime (easily the biggest audience knock against 'Button'), this is a fascinating and heartbreaking story done due justice with captivating, eye-catching effects by a brighter-than-ever David Fincher ('Seven').

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD



    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About:The true story of David Frost (Michael Sheen), a British TV personality who ponied up a cool $600,000 for the exclusive first interview with disgraced ex-president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella) ... and somehow got his money worth.

    What We Say: It takes some serious directorial skill to condense 12 days of interviews into two hours of tense and gripping entertainment, but that's exactly what Ron Howard does in crafting this exciting battle of wits. It also helps that Langella's humanizing portrayal of Tricky Dick is phenomenal.

    Special Features? The DVD offers a making-of doc, footage from the actual interviews and a feature on additional recordings of the ex-prez (perfect for the Nixon completist).

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    'The Wrestler'

    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Randy 'The Ram' Robinson (Mickey Rourke), a former pro wrestling sensation, is a shell of his former self. He now lives in a trailer park, wrestles for pennies at local New Jersey holes where using a staple gun (yes, a staple gun) in the ring is perfectly acceptable, and obsesses over a friendly neighborhood stripper (Marisa Tomei).

    It's Kind of Like: The anti-'Hogan Knows Best'

    What We Say:Darren Aronofsky's superb indie made the most noise for Rourke's triumphant comeback as a gentle giant, but the film itself was one of the year's best: It's a powerful, brutal and grueling yet still inspiring human drama.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight


    Release Date: April 21

    What It's About: Just 12 years after his death comes this biopic about legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard), aka Biggie Smalls, Big Poppa, Frank White and Christopher Wallace; also appearing are Anthony Mackie as Tupac Shakur and Derek Luke as P. Diddy (aka the man with too many aka's to list).

    It's Kind of Like:

    What We Say: The fact that Woolard raps over B.I.G. instrumentals is distracting (and we're not as wowed as we should be) but otherwise the actor delivers a strong, confident performance, and the fresh, stylish 'Notorious' builds up to a surprisingly potent peak.

    Rent the DVD | Buy the DVD

    Fox Searchlight

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