DVD Releases (for week of April 28)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Gina Rodriguez in “Miss Bala”

“MISS BALA”: With her series “Jane the Virgin” nearing its end, Gina Rodriguez is starting to put her feet more firmly in the movie world, as evidenced by her starring role in this reboot of a 2011 Mexican film about a young woman thrust by circumstance into dealings with a lethal drug cartel. While trying to find a missing friend, she’s kidnapped by the criminals and forced to carry laundered money; she also shows up on the radar of DEA agents, leaving her caught between the figurative rock and a hard place as she tries to emerge from the situation in one piece. Rodriguez acquits herself well, even in handling some major weapons, in the melodrama directed by Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight,” “Thirteen”). Co-stars include Ismael Cruz Cordova (“Mary Queen of Scots”), Anthony Mackie and Matt Lauria. DVD extras: four “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Hardwicke, executive producer Jamie Marshall and associate producer Shayda Frost; deleted and extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

”SERENITY”: Despite the combined star wattage of Oscar winners Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway – who were teamed previously in “Interstellar” – critics weren’t too kind to this melodrama that tries to emulate such noir dramas as “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” “Double Indemnity” and “Body Heat.” McConaughey plays a down-on-his luck charter-boat operator whose ex-wife (Hathaway) wants him to kill the man she’s married to now (Jason Clarke). If that seems like a fairly straightforward premise, writer and director Steven Knight can’t resist changing it up … and though he obviously has a solid cast, also including Diane Lane and Jeremy Strong, the result is prone to test a viewer’s patience. ** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“AMERICAN MASTERS: CHARLEY PRIDE – I’M JUST ME”: Recently televised by PBS, this excellent profile of the country-music icon (narrated by Tanya Tucker) recalls Pride’s roots as a sharecropper’s son who became a baseball player in the Negro American League, before literally following the sound of the Grand Ole Opry to Nashville and staking his own claim in the entertainment world. Pride tells much of his story himself, with such friends and peers as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Garth Brooks, Darius Rucker and Marty Stuart also contributing comments about his life and times. Of course, there’s also a good dose of Pride tunes, with hits including “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin” and “I’m Just Me” featured. **** (Not rated: P)

“LEVEL 16”: There are definite “Handmaid’s Tale” and “Stepford Wives” qualities to this fantasy-drama, about a facility that trains young women to be thoroughly complacent and cooperative with others in preparation for the time when they might be adopted. Katie Douglas – a young Canadian actress who did superb work in the Lifetime movie “Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey” – plays a rebellious teen who refuses to submit to the site’s rules, posing a challenge for the staff and trouble for herself. Probably not surprisingly, escape becomes her priority. Celina Martin, Sara Canning (“The Vampire Diaries”) and Peter Outerbridge also star. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“TARANTULA”: A horror classic from a period when Universal Pictures was yielding a lot of them, this 1955 thriller makes its Blu-ray debut, and has among its memorable aspects an early appearance by a screen-icon-to-be … Clint Eastwood, playing a fighter pilot who leads a bunch of jets against the title creature, which is a really (like, really) big spider that grows from being exposed to hormones developed by a scientist (veteran character actor Leo G. Carroll, of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” fame). Strange deaths clue a local doctor (John Agar) into the notion that something huge and deadly is on the loose. A neat result of the casting was that Eastwood employed Mara Corday – who plays the scientist’s aide and the doctor’s love interest – in several of his later films, including “The Gauntlet” and “Sudden Impact.” Also on view here is Raymond Bailey, who would become Mr. Drysdale on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” *** (Not rated: V)

“WEDDING MARCH 3: HERE COMES THE BRIDE”: As indicated by the fact that this is the third installment, Hallmark Channel has had success with this romantic-drama movie franchise. “Melrose Place” alums Jack Wagner and Josie Bissett return in this Valentine’s Day-themed installment as the operators of a love-inclined inn where a relative makes a decision to have her wedding – within days – while other family complications arise. Don’t fret, though: If you know Hallmark Channel attractions at all, you should feel confident that you can bank on a happy ending (or several, in this particular case). Sarah Grey, a familiar cable-movie face, and Gabrielle Miller also star. *** (Not rated)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part”






“THE UPSIDE” (May 21)

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.

jbobbin has 2289 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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