New On DVD: It's The End Of The World As We Know It, And John Cusack Feels Fine As He Cashes A Paycheck

The only DVD released today that earned big bucks at the box office was the Sony Pictures apocalyptic thriller 2012. The year 2012 has long been predicted by various ancient cultures as the year the world will end (or at least end as we now know it). That idea's the basis for director Roland Emmerich's film, which raked in more than $166 million in box office sales.

The film has lots of familiar faces onscreen: John Cusack plays Jackson, a writer who accidentally discovers that the earth's core is heating up at an alarming geophysical-catastrophic-unavoidable way. He spend most of the movie trying to get his family aboard one of a handful of ships that are supposedly harboring VIPs and breeding stock to start the human race over if it comes to that. Danny Glover appears as Thomas Wilson, the President of the United States who is being bombarded with bad news left and right: solar storms are hitting the earth with deadly radiation while the planet's surface is breaking down and volcanoes, earthquakes and other seismic disturbances are threatening the earth's crust. Oh, yeah, and there's not much he can do about it.

Woody Harrelson, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt and George Segal also appear as, without giving away the ending, people who do/don't want to/succeed on getting on the ships that are supposed to take a chosen few to safety.

The action moves all around the world, from the U.S. to China, the middle of a raging ocean to newly configured Africa. And while sitting on the edge of your seat for most of film as disaster after disaster befalls the group can be tiring (if not downright boring), director Emmerich manages to provide enough of a variety to keep 2012 from being exhausting.

Kids will enjoy another round with Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Spike Jonze and featuring the voices of Mark Ruffalo, Chris Cooper, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker. The story follows a little boy named Max who runs away from home to -- all together now -- where the wild things are. The creatures he finds there are a bit on the uncontrollable side, but once they make Max their leader, he sets about putting things in order. It's just the creatures aren't quite ready to give up their wild ways, and maybe, just maybe, Max isn't quite ready to be in charge.

Houston fans who plan on seeing the Alley Theatre's Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps, opening next week, might do themselves a favor and take a look at the BBC-produced The 39 Steps hitting the shelves today. The Alley's show is a fast-paced comedy, with just four actors playing more than 100 parts, while the BBC's DVD version is more serious, with a touch of romance thrown in. While the bare bones of the story are the same in both versions (an innocent Everyman gets caught up in a plan to save England from a German invasion during the 1940s), the similarity ends there. Characters are swapped out, there's a memory expert in one, a beautiful girl in the other, sinister spies mug for the crowd in one, and are deadly serious in the other. The differences give viewers a fresh take on the same story, showing how one tale can be told in many different ways.

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Olivia Flores Alvarez