DVD Releases (for week of Aug. 25)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“The Secret Life of Pets 2”

“THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2”: As numerous sequels have confirmed, one good animated turn deserves another, so this enjoyable follow-up brings back many of the cartoon canines (and the actors who spoke their words) from the first film – and adds a notable one in Rooster, who sports the voice of Harrison Ford. Snowball (voice of Kevin Hart) is enlisted to tackle a major challenge by Daisy (voice of Tiffany Haddish), while Max (voice of Patton Oswalt, succeeding the original picture’s Louis C.K.) has to adjust to a new household situation and needs the help of Gidget (voice of Jenny Slate) and cat Chloe (voice of Lake Bell). Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”), Nick Kroll, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress and “Saturday Night Live” alums Dana Carvey and Bobby Moynihan also lend their comedic talents vocally. DVD extras: six “making-of” documentaries; deleted scenes; “Character Pods”; “Super Gidget” and “Pets Yule Log” short subjects; two lyric videos. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“ROCKETMAN”: Dexter Fletcher was brought in to finish the Oscar-winning “Bohemian Rhapsody” after the original director was fired, and he’s also the driving force behind this intriguingly stylized biography of Elton John. The drama draws an excellent performance from “Kingsman” veteran Taron Egerton as the singer-songwriter behind countless hits that have stretched from the 1970s forward. Flashbacks triggered by a group-therapy session cover John’s early life, with Bryce Dallas Howard as his mother and Jamie Bell as his longtime creative partner Bernie Taupin. Elton John himself is one of the executive producers here, and he deserves credit for allowing the amount and depth of the personal information included, with Richard Madden playing a key figure in that. Expectedly, the performance sequences are flashy, and also quite impressive with Egerton himself doing the singing – and you’ll certainly get the music you expect. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“GODZILLA: KING OF THE MONSTERS”: Every so often, the title character is reborn on the screen with special effects that get a little bit slicker and a human cast that gets a little bit stronger, and so it is with this latest rendering. Actually, Godzilla isn’t the only classic movie monster who gets an upgrade, since Mothra and Rodan are among the others also on hand … all colliding in a massive battle to claim supremacy over the world, or what’s left of it when they’re done fighting. Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown (“Stranger Things”) have major roles here, with Bradley Whitford, Charles Dance, Aisha Hinds, David Strathairn and Ken Watanabe lending support in a rather esoteric gathering of performers. And that’s not even counting the monsters. DVD extras: 17 “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by director Michael Dougherty; deleted scenes.  *** (PG-13: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“APOCALYPSE NOW FINAL CUT”: In its 40th-anniversary year, director and (with John Milius) co-screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola’s classic and controversial Vietnam War drama – inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella ”Heart of Darkness” – gets an elaborate home-video relaunch, in a definitive edition newly restored from the film’s original negative. The drama’s debut in the 4K Ultra HD format is featured as the epic weaves the story of an Army captain’s (Martin Sheen) mission to assassinate a colonel (Marlon Brando) who has gone rogue deep in Cambodia. Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Frederic Forrest, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford and Scott Glenn also star. Both the theatrical cut and the extended cut of the movie also are included, along with a bounty of special features on the Blu-ray version such as the acclaimed “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” documentary that Eleanor Coppola made about her husband’s huge undertaking. **** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“A MILLION LITTLE THINGS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON”: Though it seems to owe more than a bit to “The Big Chill” thematically as it begins, this ABC drama series – which will return soon for Season 2 — then goes its own way with rich characterizations and story developments that aren’t predictable. The suicide of a Boston businessman (Ron Livingston) leaves those close to him devastated, certainly including his wife and teenage daughter (Stephanie Szostak, Lizzy Greene), but there’s a lot about him that they and others didn’t know. Friends include a cancer survivor (James Roday, “Psych”) determined to help a new love interest (Allison Miller) through her own health challenge, a music teacher (David Giuntoli, “Grimm”) with a complicated family life, and a chef (Christina Moses) with her own culinary dreams. Romany Malco, Christina Ochoa and Grace Park also are principal members of the final ensemble cast. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“NOVA: THE PLANETS”: It’s great that Blu-ray is an option for this very recent presentation of the PBS science series, since the visuals it offers deserve the sharpest presentation possible. As the title suggests, the five-part program (co-prpoduced with England’s BBC) takes viewers on a journey through the solar system to examine the various planets its comprised of,  with Mars, Jupiter and Saturn getting their own full-hour profiles. The episodes “Inner Worlds” and “Ice Worlds” showcase the others, as experts discuss what makes the specific locale unique – with data that has been returned from space missions being folded into the information offered. Zachary Quinto, alias Spock in the most recent “Star Trek” movies, is the narrator; those interviewed include scientists who have had major roles in a number of NASA projects.  **** (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):


“BOOKSMART” (Sept. 3)

“MA” (Sept. 3)




“DARK PHOENIX” (Sept. 17)

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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