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Lawrence carries ‘Hunger Games’

Three new DVD releases this week deal with people and power.

• “The Hunger Games ,” Grade A: A teenage girl (Jennifer Lawrence) must participate in a fight to the death.

The film features high-tension action that eclipses the “Twilight” films and has more magical character development than the “Harry Potter” series, making it a prime contender for the next great film series. This is that rare case of a movie that will please lovers of the book as well as those who have never heard of the series.

There is no young actor who has the ability to handle both the physical and emotional challenges of the role as well as Lawrence. Her acting is so honest that every emotion resonates with a truthfulness that compels us to watch. Whether she is faking a romance to earn favor among the viewers or mourning the death of a competitor, her work is less a performance and more a spiritual, emotional and physical metamorphosis.

The DVD hit stores Saturday.

• “The Dictator,” Grade B: A dictator (Sacha Baron Cohen) tries to keep democracy from coming to his oppressed country. Cohen’s latest unabashed leap into the world of political incorrectness is so off-color, vulgar and frat-boy funny that there is a tendency to want to apologize for laughing.

Don’t hang your head in shame. The film works both as a sneaky political satire and as a raunchy over-the-top comedy.

• “The Closer: The Complete Seventh and Final Season,” Grade B: A show’s final season is often weighed by how well it ends. In the case of this Kyra Sedgwick cable detective series, the end is quite satisfying.

The departure of Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgwick), so that most of the rest of the team can continue with the new “Major Crimes” series, is both respectful to the character and the audience. It wraps up a long-running story line and leaves just enough wiggle room in case Sedgwick wants to make a return appearance.

Also out this week

“Bernie”: An assistant funeral director befriends the town’s least favorite citizen. Jack Black stars.

“NCIS: The Ninth Season”: Mark Harmon stars.

“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Season One, Volume One”: Includes 30 episodes of the action series

“NCIS: Los Angeles - The Third Season”: Chris O’Donnell stars in the TV crime drama.

“A Separation”: A woman must go to court over plans to leave Iran.

“Hell”: The sun turns the world into a wasteland.

“Virginia”: Jennifer Connelly plays a mentally ill woman.

“Revenge: The Complete First Season”: Madeleine Stowe stars in the prime-time soap opera.

“Perry Mason: Season Seven, Volume One”: Perry Mason continues to win in court.

“The Adventures of Tintin - Season Three”: Includes “The Red Sea Sharks” adventures.

“Halloween 4” and “Halloween 5”: Both films are on Blu-ray.

“The Complete History of the New York Giants”: A look at the NFL team.

“Good Will Hunting”: The 15th anniversary edition is on Blu-ray.

“House: Season Eight”: Final season of the TV medical drama.


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