DVD Releases (for week of July 14)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Jack Dylan Grazer (left) and Zachary Levi star in “Shazam!”

“SHAZAM!”: With as many superhero movies as there have been lately, if another one is going to jump on that bandwagon, it had better bring something different. Happily, this one does … a light touch that stands out when so many other films in the genre have played it seriously. Zachary Levi (“Chuck,” “Tangled”) has just the right look and spirit to play the transformed DC Comics image of Billy Batson, a foster child foreseen as the world’s savior by a wizard. (Levi shares the main role with the younger Asher Angel.) Helped by a crash course in heroes from a fellow foster youngster (Jack Dylan Grazer, of “It”), the high-powered Shazam sets out to stop a villain – played by Mark Strong — who has brought the Seven Deadly Sins to physical and lethal life. Those monsters actually give the picture some pretty scary moments for what’s meant to be a generally bemused take on the superhero premise – but mostly, the movie is a nice antidote for viewers who fear those who wear capes and throw hammers and shields have gotten a bit too grim. Djimon Hounsou also appears. DVD extras: five “making-of” documentaries; deleted scenes; outtakes; “motion comic.” *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“BREAKTHROUGH”: Films steeped in faith have done quite well at the box office in recent years, and this latest of them is effectively staged by Roxann Dawson, an actress who has done lots of television directing but had her own breakthrough into moviemaking here. Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”) plays a woman whose adopted son (Marcel Ruiz) falls through the ice on a lake and, after an extended time submerged, may not survive. However, when his mother arrives at the hospital and offers prayers over him, he revives and then recovers with the help of an ace medical team. Josh Lucas, Topher Grace, Mike Colter and Dennis Haysbert also give the picture plenty of cred in the performing arena – and while the tale is front-loaded with emotion, it ultimately earns all the feels it inspires. NBA superstar Stephen Curry was one of the executive producers. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Dawson and producer DeVon Franklin; deleted scene; photo gallery. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“SPACE: 1999 – THE COMPLETE SERIES”: A cult favorite, this mid-1970s sci-fi series – one of the earlier shows to take advantage of the first-run syndication market for dramas in the U.S. – now gets a full Blu-ray release (only the first of its two seasons has been available in that format in America previously) while also getting a relaunch on DVD. Visionary producers Gerry and Sylvia Anderson wedded the miniatures and special effects of their “Supermarionation” classics such as “Thunderbirds” to the human saga of Moonbase Alpha, blown off its home on the lunar surface and into an odyssey across the universe. Then-spouses Martin Landau and Barbara Bain repeated their “Mission: Impossible” teamwork by leading the cast here, along with Barry Morse (“The Fugitive”) and Catherine Schell. In addition to the 48 episodes of the series, an additional disc offers a bounty of special features. *** (Not rated: AS, V)

“KLUTE”: In 1971, Jane Fonda’s status as a polarizing figure partially informed the reaction to her edgy performance – which ultimately yielded her first Oscar win – in director Alan J. Pakula’s very adult melodrama, now getting deluxe Criterion Collection home-video treatment. The title role belongs to Donald Sutherland, playing a detective on a missing-persons case that a New York prostitute (Fonda) might be able to help him solve, though she’s reluctant to assist him initially. While the script never loses sight of the mystery at its heart, it’s also an intense study of Fonda’s character, whose developing personal connection to Klute only deepens her troubled feelings. The excellent supporting cast includes Roy Scheider, Charles Cioffi and Jean Stapleton (“All in the Family”), with early blink-and-you’ll-miss-them appearances by Veronica Hamel (“Hill Street Blues”), Kevin Dobson (“Knots Landing”) and Sylvester Stallone. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries; interviews with Fonda and Pakula. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON”: It’s no coincidence that this superb, Tom Hanks-produced HBO miniseries makes its Blu-ray debut in the week that also encompasses the 50th anniversary of man’s first walk on the lunar surface. Indeed, the Apollo 11 mission is the subject of an entire episode, though the drama traces all of the Apollo flights as well as the preceding Mercury and Gemini programs. Hanks — who also serves as host — directed the premiere, and his “Forrest Gump” and “Punchline” co-star Sally Field called the shots on a chapter (in which she also appears) focused primarily on astronauts’ wives. The huge cast includes such familiar faces as Mark Harmon, Tony Goldwyn, Tim Daly, Steve Zahn, Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes, Adam Baldwin, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, JoBeth Williams, John Slattery, Rita Wilson (alias Mrs. Hanks) and a pre-politics Al Franken. **** (Not rated: AS, P)

“AMERICAN MASTERS: ROBERT SHAW – MAN OF MANY VOICES”: Not to be confused with the same-named “Jaws” actor, the legendary choral-music conductor is recalled by this recently televised PBS profile. A winner of 16 Grammys and a Peabody Award among other honors, Shaw enjoyed great renown for his professional accomplishments, but his personal flaws – including a penchant for heavy drinking — constantly cast a shadow over them, at least from his viewpoint. Yo-Yo Ma, President Jimmy Carter (who invited Shaw to perform at his inauguration, and later chose him for a government appointment) and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young are among those who comment on Shaw’s life and career, with concert footage and excerpts from archival letters enhancing the documentary. *** (Not rated)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Alita: Battle Angel”


“HELLBOY” (July 23)


“MISSING LINK” (July 23)


“A DOG’S JOURNEY” (Aug. 20)

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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