DVD Releases for the week of August 29, 2021

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“In the Heights”

“IN THE HEIGHTS”: Originally conceived by him while he was in college — well before “Hamilton” made him a household name and a preeminent force in entertainment — Lin-Manuel Miranda’s immensely spirited musical about the Washington Heights community comes to physical home media after its simultaneous run in theaters and on HBO Max. The project is a vast cross-section of characters and personalities, and at the center is a bodega owner (Anthony Ramos) whose hopes for a better future spark Miranda’s music score. The Broadway staging’s Olga Merediz returns in director Jon M. Chu’s (“Crazy Rich Asians”) cast that also includes Corey Hawkins (“Straight Outta Compton”), Leslie Grace (who recently landed a job as the screen’s next Batgirl), Melissa Barrera, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Gregory Diaz IV, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco (“Orange Is the New Black”), singer Marc Anthony, veteran talent Jimmy Smits and Miranda himself. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, Digital and On Demand)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

“BEASTS OF NO NATION”: A widely acclaimed Netflix offering finally makes its way to physical home media, via The Criterion Collection, with this 2015 drama about a youngster caught upon his West African nation’s civil war. Adapted for the screen and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga — whose James Bond movie “No Time to Die” is awaiting release — the picture boasts a remarkable performance by Abraham Attah, who was honored by the Venice International Film Festival and the Film Independent Spirit Awards for his portrayal of Agu, basically forced into service as a rebel soldier and subjected to a brutal experience of growing up fast in the face of extreme violence … some of which he must commit himself. In a mostly unknown cast, Idris Elba (who also picked up multiple related awards) is the star presence in a hugely unsympathetic role as the soldiers’ commander. The overall project earned a prestigious Peabody Award. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by Fukunaga and first assistant director Jon Mallard; interviews of Fukunaga and costume designer Jenny Beavan. **** (Not rated: AS, N, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray)

“12 MIGHTY ORPHANS”: The dozen title characters in this true drama based on a best seller by Jim Dent are — or, in real life, were — the youths who formed a football squad at a Texas orphanage, where they overcame various poverty-imposed hardships to rise to victory under a coach (played by Luke Wilson) whose own background gave him great understanding of his players. The techniques he utilized with them would find added applications in the game of football as a whole, and they received national attention at the time from admirers who even included President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The impressive cast also includes Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Vinessa Shaw (“Hocus Pocus”), Treat Williams and Wayne Knight (“Seinfeld”). *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray. Digital and On Demand)

“BUGSY MALONE”: Kids as Depression-era mobsters? You won’t laugh off the notion if you’re one of the many enduring fans of writer-director Alan Parker’s cult-classic musical-comedy, getting its first U.S. Blu-ray release — which commemorates its 45th anniversary — as part of the “Paramount Presents” series. Played by Scott Baio before his “Happy Days,” Bugsy is a seemingly washed-up boxing promoter who gets caught up in a struggle for ownership of a popular nightspot, with Jodie Foster as his singing ex-flame who has become the moll of one of the gangsters in question. The picture’s violence largely is on the order of such “weapons” as whipped cream, used to a huge extent in a climactic battle that any devotee of this film is sure to know well. The music and lyrics were composed by Paul Williams, shortly before he won an Oscar for his work on Barbra Streisand’s “A Star Is Born.” The cast largely is filled out by relative unknowns, but it also includes Dexter Fletcher, who would grow up to be an actor-director of note (“The Rachel Papers,” “Rocketman”). *** (G)

“NCIS: NEW ORLEANS: THE FINAL SEASON”: CBS essentially is trading one “NCIS” series for another, since in launching one set in the Hawaiian islands next month, it brought an end to this variation headquartered in the Big Easy (where the show was filmed on location). Special Agent Dwayne Pride (played by Scott Bakula, also an executive producer here) gets a somewhat happy ending at the end of the seven-year run since he gets to marry girlfriend Rita Devereaux (Chelsea Field, Bakula’s real-life wife), though concerns about a case threaten to get in the way of the nuptials. The drama didn’t ignore the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the two-part episode that opened the season after its filming had been delayed, as was the case with so many shows. A “Complete Series” set also is available; Callie Thorne is a recurring guest star, and Vanessa Ferlito, Rob Kerkovich, CCH Pounder and Daryl “Chill” Mitchell wrap up their runs as cast regulars.  *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“FEAR THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON”: The AMC spinoff series continued with several significant cast additions … Keith Carradine as John’s (Garret Dillahunt) fellow-police-veteran father, John Glover as the dangerous leader of the Doomsday cult, and Nick Stahl as a deeply dedicated member of that cult. Lennie James, who crossed over to this show in his “The Walking Dead” role as Morgan Jones, directed one of the episodes here; he also continues to have a key acting presence as Morgan pursues his quest to survive, though he’s the target of a bounty hunter — sent by his Pioneers nemesis Virginia (Colby Minifie) — as the season begins. The phrase “The end is the beginning” plays a very prominent role in the proceedings here, and the season finale makes its meaning inescapably clear; a seventh round of the series has been ordered. Cast regulars also include Alycia Debnam-Carey, Maggie Grace, Ruben Blades, Jenna Elfman, Danay Garcia, Colman Domingo, Karen David and Austin Amelio. Telecasts of Season 7 start in mid-October. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):



“BLACK WIDOW” (Sept. 14)




“Zack Snyder’s Justice League”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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