Digital Breakdown: Cool animated ‘Beowulf’ 

Forget about anything you have ever read or seen before that has the label "Beowulf." This modern, animated version is by far the best of the dozens of films based on the classic poem. Using the movements and facial expressions of Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Angelina Jolie, Robin Wright Penn, then supplemented by CGI, the creative animation is among the best ever seen on film — so life-like, it almost makes you wonder why the movie wasn’t done live action. There are great extras on the DVD’s single disc. The best is an awesomely detailed 23-minute featurette showing the actors working in the virtual reality studio that converted their movements and facial features into digital for the animation. We also see how the stunts worked, the ins and outs of the food scenes and how horses were incorporated. Also, another interesting featurette has a short on how the monsters evolved from the original sketches, while another quickie is focused on the origins of "Beowulf" — from the poem to the tweaks made to this incarnation and everything in between. There’s information about the art direction and a handful of unfinished deleted scenes. It’s a nice set of extras that go along with an entertaining, brilliantly animated film. Price: $29.98 to $39.98. Buy or Rent: Buy.

30 DAYS OF NIGHT

The über-vampire movie is about a remote Alaskan town that gets overrun by blood-suckers in winter, when there is no daylight for 30 days. Starring Josh Hartnett, Ben Foster and Melissa George, the film is brutal, gothic and gore-filled — a joy for horror fans everywhere. The DVD has eight in-depth featurettes, deleted scenes and an audio commentary with Hartnett and George.Price: $28.98 to $38.98. Rent or buy: Good rental.

NEWHART — THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

Larry, his brother Darrell and his other brother Darrell are finally coming to DVD after a mere 25 years. When a New Yorker moves with his wife to Vermont to run a small country inn, they are immediately surrounded by an eclectic, hilariously funny group of friends and neighbors. This DVD set includes all 22 episodes from the first season remastered for high-definition sound and picture and featurettes including a tribute to Bob Newhart by the TV Land cable network. Price: $39.98. Rent or buy: Buy, if a fan.

COMANCHE MOON

Gotta love these quick turn-arounds from television mini-series to DVD. "Comanche Moon," the latest chapter to the "Lonesome Dove" series, just aired on CBS last month. This time, Texas Rangers Woodrow Call and Augustus McCrae pursue three outlaws across the plain while trying to juggle their personal lives. A making-of featurette and deleted scenes round out the DVD. Price: $29.98. Rent or buy: Rent.

DEATH AT A FUNERAL

A funeral for a father turns into chaos when a family is forced to come to terms with the father’s hidden homosexuality, bad behavior by his siblings and fledgling romances. Directed by Frank Oz, the film keeps gaining momentum — and hilarity — and ends hysterically. The DVD has a gag reel, and commentary from Oz and the actors. Price: $29.98. Rent or buy: Good rental.

HOTEL BABYLON — SEASON ONE

The drama "Hotel Babylon" takes an inside look at one of London’s top-class hotels and the dark, deep secrets between the staff and, of course, the guests. The DVD set includes eight episodes as well as a handful of audio commentaries and one making-of featurette. Price: $39.98. Rent or buy: Both.

Other DVDs out Tuesday: "Goya’s Ghost," "Resurrecting the Champ," "Legend of the Black Scorpion," "Slipstream," "Bone Dry," "Slipstream," "The Darjeeling Limited," "To Kill a King" and "The Fugitive — Season One, Volume Two."

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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