New on DVD

Werner Herzog's 'Rescue Dawn' is the remarkable story of a US pilot shot down over the thick Laos jungle. 'Live Free or Die Hard' is a little more straightforward: action, action, and more action.

Rescue Dawn (PG-13)

Werner Herzog's remarkable interpretation of the true story of German-born Dieter Dengler – a US pilot shot down over Laos on his first mission after waiting a lifetime to fly it – depicts the unrelenting optimism and self-reliance of Dengler (Christian Bale) as he leads an escape from prison camp. Lushly shot in the thick Thai jungle by Peter Zeitlinger, this full-immersion film pays close attention to detail. Supporting actors, including Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies, appear to be at the edge of actual starvation. DVD extras include an illuminating Herzog commentary and a strong feature on the strenuous filmmaking process in which, among other surreal episodes, actors would find Herzog filming them as they slept. Grade: A – Clayton Collins

Live Free or Die Hard (PG-13)

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Fans and critics alike passed the popcorn with joy when this third sequel in the Bruce Willis franchise appeared. Wry and human-scale (despite the nearly constant mayhem), with a surprisingly muted Willis back in the many drivers' seats, all sides agree that this is the first worthy sequel to the original 1988 hit film. The extras are mundane – low-key interviews with Willis and the rest of the production team, commentary, and a routine making-of featurette. The DVD offers two takes: the PG-13 film and an unrated version with an abundance of profanity. Grade: A – Gloria Goodale

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