2 1/2 stars = Average
3 1/2 stars = Very good
If you wondered -- or worried -- that actress Kristen Stewart lost weight to look so deathly thin in "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1," you can rest easy.
One of the extras on a DVD set being released at midnight Friday shows how a combination of visual effects (a computer program called "shrink wrap"), prosthetics, makeup, camera moves and even a life-size dummy managed that feat.
It's part of nearly 90 minutes of featurettes called "Love, Death, Birth" and sliced into segments labeled a new beginning, the wedding, honeymoon, wolf pack, pregnancy and birth.
The set also has other special elements such as Bella and Edward's personal wedding video, a look at "Jacob's destiny," which involves him manning up (wolfing up?) after catching the eye of the newlyweds' newborn he had intended to kill. Instead, their destinies are intertwined.
You also can click on "Edward Fast Forward" or "Jacob Fast Forward" and zip through the movie, stopping only when Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner is on screen. And yes, it works.
Some stores, such as Target, are planning special events in connection with the DVD release at midnight Friday or 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Just before midnight, select locations will screen a never-seen scene showing Bella as a vampire that will be part of the final film arriving in theaters in November. Target stores at the Waterfront and in Cranberry, North Fayette and Monroeville are expected to participate in the promotion.
Target shoppers can purchase a special-edition DVD, which includes an authentic flower from the wedding set encased in Lucite.
You can say this about the makers of the franchise that produced five movies in three years and three months: They know and respect their fans.
Novelist Stephenie Meyer, who served as a producer and doubled as a wedding guest (as did screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg), collaborated with Carolina Herrera on Bella's bridal gown and director Bill Condon purposely revealed it in stages. And the costumes for select wedding guests reflect the eras when the vampires were alive.
You can see how cold it was, with the actors' breath visible and the crew members bundled in heavy coats. In fact, anyone who still mistakenly thinks moviemaking is glamorous will see what happens when 120 people get marooned in a remote part of Brazil while filming the honeymoon interludes.
Winds of 75 miles per hour prevented boats from coming to move everyone out, and you see the weary splayed around the living room set -- before being reminded they couldn't get the furniture wet or dirty because it was still being used for the movie.
Filming the final two movies simultaneously was a challenge of organization and flexibility. Mr. Lautner, for instance, says a morning sometimes was spent shooting a scene from the beginning of the first movie while the afternoon would be devoted to a scene at the end of the second movie.
"Breaking Dawn" is the most romantic of the four movies so far and also the most adult. As Mr. Condon says (spoiler alert), "Bella gets married, she has sex for the first time, she gets pregnant, she gives birth, she dies and she's reborn and that's just the first movie."
The two-disc DVD set earns a higher rating than the movie thanks to the extras also featuring an audio commentary by Mr. Condon.
-- Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2 stars = Mediocre
The dope-smoking buds cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold's father-in-law's prize Christmas tree.
This is the film version of regifting. No matter how good the product, there's no big reason to get excited because you've seen it before. First-time director Todd Strauss-Schulson wanted to pay tribute to directors from Busby Berkeley to Guy Ritchie in this send-up of holiday movies. But his nods are so on target that there's no original moments.
What saves the film is the natural chemistry of John Cho and Kal Penn as Harold and Kumar. They are the best film stoners since Cheech and Chong smoked their way to the top.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
ALSO THIS WEEK:
• "Love Story": The 1970 film, starring Ryan O'Neal and Ali McGraw, is being released on Blu-ray with the documentary "Love Story: A Classic Remembered," commentary by director Arthur Hiller and the original theatrical trailer.
• "Downton Abbey: Season 2": Times have changed and so has the house in 1916 as war impacts life at Downton.
• "Beavis and Butt-Head: Volume Four": More animated antics by the wild teens.
• "Penguins of Madagascar: Operation: Get Ducky": The penguins face another big mission.
• "Lady and the Tramp": The 1955 Disney film is available on Blu-ray.
• "Fireflies in the Garden": A seemingly perfect family faces dysfunctional and destructive elements. Julia Roberts stars.
• "The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall": Broadway's longest-running production celebrates a quarter-century on stage.
• "A Warrior's Heart": A high school student has trouble dealing with his father's death.
• "Steve Coogan Live": Stage performance by the British comedian.
• "CSI: Grave Danger": The two-part special of the CBS procedural drama directed by Quentin Tarantino is on Blu-ray.
• "Northern Lights: The Complete Collection": Stars Robson Green and Mark Benton.
• "The Rebound": A woman (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and her kids move from the suburbs to pursue a new life in the big city.
• "Rocko's Modern Life: Season 2": The animated adventures of Rocko, Spunky and Heffer continue.
• "Project Nim": Documentary about a chimpanzee raised as a human child.
• "Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred": A student tries to expose his new music teacher as a vampire.
• "Police Woman: The Complete Second Season": Angie Dickinson stars in the TV detective series.
• "Father Dowling Mysteries: The First Season": Tom Bosley plays a priest who solves crimes.
• "Elmo's World: Favorite Things!": Elmo talks about his favorite things.
• "5 Star Day": A good horoscope may not be right. Cam Gigandet stars.
• "The Yakuza Weapon": Action film based on Ken Ishikawa's manga.
• "What Happens Next": A bored billionaire gets a dog.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
First Published February 9, 2012 5:00 AM