March 5: DVD alternatives to this weekend’s multiplex offerings

We know how it is: You’d like to go to the movies this weekend, but you’re late, you’re late, for a very important date. But you can have a multiplex-like experience at home with a collection of the right DVDs. And when someone asks you on Monday, “Hey, did you see Alice in Wonderland this weekend?” you can reply, “No, visited other alternative fantasylands instead.”
INSTEAD OF: Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton’s reimagining of the classic story of the little girl who fell down a rabbit hole…

WATCH: The recent SyFy miniseries Alice (2009), which also posits an older Alice returning to Wonderland, where she discovers a surprising new role for herself; be warned, though: this one is edgy, and not for kids. For an Alice the kiddies can enjoy, go for Disney’s previous exploration of Lewis Carroll with its beloved Alice in Wonderland (1951); it’s out of the Disney vault at the moment and readily available to buy or rent. Or, instead of going down the rabbit hole, go over the rainbow with Dorothy in the eternally enchanting The Wizard of Oz (1939). To see how else Tim Burton has reinterpreted a classic, try Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005); fans on mixed on whether he does either the book or the original film justice.

INSTEAD OF: Brooklyn’s Finest, a gritty drama of the tough, morally complicated positions of three NYPD cops in the borough roughest precinct…

WATCH: Training Day (2001), also from director Antoine Fuqua, about the roughest 24 hours one Los Angeles cop will ever face. Ethan Hawke appears in both Fuqua films, in two very different cop roles; for a Hawke character on the other side of the law, check out his slimy thief in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007). Richard Gere portrays an exhausted, aloof, but hardly bad cop in Finest; in Internal Affairs (1990), however, he’s a grade-A bad guy with a badge. For more Don Cheadle, who plays the most conflicted cop in Finest, see his exquisite performance in Traitor (2008), in which he plays a terrorist who may be more complicated than he at first appears.

And opening in extremely limited release, but expanding over the next few weeks:

INSTEAD OF: The Secret of Kells, the lovely Oscar-nominated animated fantasy in which the treasure of medieval Ireland, the masterfully illustrated Book of Kells, comes to life onscreen in a fanciful story about its making…

WATCH: The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), a charming fantasy suitable for the whole family in which two young boys discover a supernatural mystery of the Emerald Isle. Or try another all-ages delight: Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1959), the Disney about what happens when the king of the leprechauns is captured by humans. For other movies kids and parents can enjoy together about the magic of books, check out Inkheart (2008), an adventure about people who can read books into reality (the results can be problematic, depending on the book!), or the ultimate movie about storytelling, The Princess Bride (1987), in which a grandfather reads to his grandson so that the tale or mean princes and brave pirates and beautiful maidens unfolds before our eyes, too.

Where to buy:
Alice [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.]
Alice in Wonderland (1951) [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Darby O’Gill and the Little People [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Inkheart [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Internal Affairs [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Princess Bride [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Secret of Roan Inish [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Training Day [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
Traitor [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]
The Wizard of Oz [Region 1/U.S.] [Region 1/Can.] [Region 2]

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