DVD Releases for the week of March 28, 2021

Gal Gadot in “Wonder Woman 1984”

“WONDER WOMAN 1984”: Though it also was released last Christmas to whatever theaters were open and available for it, this Gal Gadot-starring, Patty Jenkins-directed superheroine sequel became one of the biggest attractions to go the direct-to-consumer route simultaneously … also debuting on HBO Max at the time, and establishing a release pattern that Warner Bros. Pictures is following with all of its 2021 titles. A very special gemstone pits Wonder Woman and her alias Diana Prince (Gadot) against a power-crazed villain (Pedro Pascal), with the Amazonian icon alternately helped and thwarted by various associates; Kristen Wiig plays a very significant part there. Amid the expected and plentiful visual spectacle, Chris Pine reappears as Steve Trevor, and other returnees include Robin Wright and Connie Nielsen. And for those wondering, yes, “Wonder Woman 3” is in the works. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD and On Demand)

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

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“THE TEN COMMANDMENTS”: The approach of Easter makes it an appropriate time for the 4K Ultra HD debut of filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille’s enduring biblical blockbuster, his 1956 remake of his own silent 1923 film. Charlton Heston established a screen image that would serve him for the rest of his career as Moses, whose parting of the Red Sea remains one of the most stunning images in the history of film … and bear in mind that was accomplished long before digital effects were introduced. (Fun fact: In early sequences here, the baby Moses is played by Heston’s son Fraser.) Still one of very few movies to have an annual broadcast-network berth — ABC shows it each year — the nearly four-hours-long film has an enormous cast that also includes Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Edward G. Robinson, Yvonne DeCarlo, Debra Paget, John Derek, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, Nina Foch, Martha Scott, Judith Anderson, Vincent Price and John Carradine. Also, aficionados should look closely for then-stars-to-be Woodrow “Woody” Strode, Clint Walker and Touch (later “Mike”) Connors. One of the great extras included is star-packed newsreel footage of the movie’s NewYork premiere. *** (G)

“THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH”: Among Oscar winners for best picture that are available on Blu-ray, Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 circus epic has been a notable omission — but that now changes with the drama’s debut in that format, in a newly restored version. Charlton Heston plays the general manager who tries to keep the traveling show going amid financial hardships, and also to keep one of the principal acrobats (Betty Hutton) from feeling upstaged by a newly recruited star attraction (Cornel Wilde). Though James Stewart was a star attraction himself at the time, he sends the film under clown makeup; Dorothy Lamour, Gloria Grahame, Henry Wilcoxon (who also served as associate producer here) and Lawrence Tierney also are in the large cast, along with many performers from the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus … which no longer exists, giving this highly entertaining (if fairly dated) movie an enormous nostalgia quotient almost 70 years after its initial release. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“FROM THE HOLOCAUST TO HOLLYWOOD: THE ROBERT CLARY STORY”: Best-known as LeBeau on the classic sitcom “Hogan’s Heroes,” Paris-born actor Clary endured many hardships along with his family — including his 13 siblings — during World War II. Ultimately freed from a concentration camp where he performed regularly for Nazi officers (a fact to which he attributes his survival), he came to America to pursue the entertainment career that also would encompass musical-comedy appearances on Broadway and television, daytime-serial work and a role in the movie “The Hindenburg.” Here, Clary (who wrote a related autobiography 20 years ago) reflects on the entirety of his own history, in remarks that understandably are frequently fraught with emotion. Interestingly, the garden at his Beverly Hills residence evokes his French upbringing. *** (Not rated: AS)

“DEFENDING YOUR LIFE”: Re-entering the home-video market as a Criterion Collection offering, writer, director and star Albert Brooks’ comedy benefits greatly from one of the most charming performances Meryl Streep has given. The 1991 film casts Brooks as a new admittee to a heavenly waiting area, where he must do exactly what the title indicates — determining whether he goes forward on a righteous path, or is sent back to an earthly existence to try living again, with his case argued by opposing lawyers portrayed by Rip Torn and Lee Grant. Streep plays a fellow soul-in-waiting who poses a great temptation for Brooks, and ultimately might play a big role in the decision about his fate. Buck Henry, who had involvement in the similarly themed “Heaven Can Wait,” also appears … and a certain star who’s long had an identification with the afterlife has a fun cameo. The new 4K transfer was overseen by Brooks, who also participates in a new interview as an extra here. *** (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

“MERYL STREEP 8-MOVIE COLLECTION”: It goes without saying — though we’ll say it — that some great performances are encompassed by this collection of Streep’s work for Universal Pictures, including one of her Oscar-winning portrayals. That comes in “Out of Africa,” directed by Sydney Pollack and also starring Robert Redford, and the variety in the set is indicated by the fact that it also includes the two “Mamma Mia!” musicals. A favorite of this column is writer-director Nancy Meyers’  “It’s Complicated,” with a wonderfully accessible Streep as a divorcee who secretly takes up again with her randy ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) while she’s being courted by a mild-mannered architect (Steve Martin). Rounding out the titles are “Death Becomes Her,” “One True Thing,”  “Prime” and “The River Wild” … again, all underscoring Streep’s famous versatility, **** (PG, PG-13 and R, varying by the film: AS, P, V)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar”


“SPACEBALLS (SPECIAL EDITION)” (Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD) (April 13)

“DIRTY DANCING” (4K Ultra HD Steelbook) (April 27)




Jay Bobbin

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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