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Playing catch up Animated feature brings comic book 'Watchmen' to life

If you're not already a fan of "The Watchmen," the graphic novel/comic series penned by Alan Moore and illustrator Dave Gibbons in the 1980s, you're probably wondering about the soap opera surrounding the release of its long-awaited big-screen adaptation.

There's not enough room here to explain why the movie took so long to get made, nor the recent fighting over its impending release next week. Fans can just be happy the movie is finally on its way; everyone else can catch up with "Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic" ($29.98 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray; Warner Premiere; available Tuesday).

This animated feature is quite different than any DVD you've seen -- suffice it to say that it is literally the comic book on your TV screen. Though there is some movement, music that acts as a sparse soundtrack and voices to narrate and read for each character, this isn't a movie. Think of it, instead, like a slide show that brings to life nearly every frame of the comic series.

It's slow-going at times -- many people can read it on the page faster than the story is told on screen -- but it's great to see Gibbons' illustrations in such detail.

The 12 chapters are told in approximately 30 minutes each. The only bonus material on the standard DVD is a look at the new "Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess." The Blu-ray set also has a "Watchmen Theatrical Video Journal With Dave Gibbons" and a first look at the theatrical film.

If you're planning on buying this and seeing the movie, be sure to get the DVD first: It comes with a voucher good toward $7.50 off the movie's admission.

Warner Home Video has released five more titles in its new "Paul Newman Film Series." All are making their DVD debut and are affordably priced at $19.97 each. They do not include special features.

Though these may not be the "best" of Newman (clearly those have already been released), they are all interesting titles. Start off with Newman in his movie debut, the 1954 film "The Silver Chalice." Newman heads a star-studded cast in the fun Irwin Allen disaster movie, "When Time Ran Out" (1980). He plays a cad opposite the lovely Ann Blyth in the melodramatic biopic "The Helen Morgan Story." (The movie's soundtrack has such gorgeous standards as "The Man I Love" -- all sung by Gogi Grant.) Martin Ritt directs Newman in "The Outrage," a Western take on Akira Kurosawa's "Rashomon."

Also included is Newman's directorial debut, "Rachel Rachel," starring his wife, Joanne Woodward, as a lonely teacher living with her overbearing widowed mother. The arrival of an old friend changes her life forever.

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Four-legged fun

Disney is going to the dogs with new two releases.

It's calling itself the greatest Chihuahua movie ever made and who am I to argue? The surprise hit "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" ($29.99, Disney) arrives on DVD on Tuesday with the new animated short, "Legend of the Chihuahua," bloopers and deleted scenes.

The widescreen DVD also comes with an audio commentary. The Blu-ray ($34.99) has "Pet Pals: The Voices Behind the Dogs," "Hitting the Bark: On Set With the Dogs of Beverly Hills Chihuahua" and additional deleted scenes.

Revisit an old friend in "Air Bud: Special Edition" ($29.99, Disney, available Tuesday). The first film in the buddy series stars Kevin Zegers as a 12-year-old who moves to a new city and is befriended by a runaway golden retriever named Buddy with uncanny athletic abilities. The buddies give their own commentary in the new "Dog-U-Mentary With the Buddies" features. The disc also comes with a Buddy dog-tag "necklace" suitable for either boys or girls.

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Coming Tuesday

"Ashes of Time Redux" (Sony), "Australia" (Fox), "I've Loved You So Long" (Sony) and "John Steinbeck's East of Eden" (Acorn Media Group).

TV on DVD: "Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season" (Sony), "The Hills: The Complete Fourth Season" (MTV/Paramount), "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" (Acorn), "The Smurfs" (Warner), Sony), "Trial & Retribution, Set 2" (Acorn) and "Wildfire: Season Three" (Lionsgate).

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DVD Extra

SCARLETT JOHANSSON COLLECTION: This three-disc set celebrates the young actress with her films "A Good Woman," "An American Rhapsody" and the gorgeous "Girl With a Pearl Earring." Audio commentaries are included. ($19.98, Lionsgate. Available Tuesday.)

e-mail: truberto@buffnews.com

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