DVD Releases (for week of July 28)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Justice Smith in “Pokemon Detective Pikachu”

“POKEMON DETECTIVE PIKACHU”: The popular, enduring franchise takes a big turn by yielding its first live-action tale, though Ryan Reynolds’ performance in the title role is a matter of the motion-capture technique. An insurance salesman (Justice Smith) is the only person who can understand him, making them unusual allies in the culture-merging Ryme City as the salesman probes the circumstances behind the apparent death of his father … who happened to be Pikachu’s police partner. A would-be reporter (Kathryn Newton, “Big Little Lies”) joins them in their quest. Bill Nighy (“Love Actually”), Ken Watanabe, Chris Geere (“You’re the Worst”), Suki Waterhouse and singer-actress Rita Ora the unusual and – expectedly — highly visual mix of elements. DVD extras: seven “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by “Mr. Mime”; alternate opening; music video. *** (PG: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA”: Though it doesn’t have “The Conjuring” in its title, this thriller is part of that horror franchise, telling the tale of a woman (Patricia Velasquez) who tries to protect her sons from a supernatural force in mid-1970s Los Angeles. A social worker (Linda Cardellini) tries to help, but she ultimately finds herself another target of the sinister spirit known as La Llorona, which dates back to 19th-century Mexico. The film was written by Gary Dauberman, the writer-director of the latest of the “Annabelle” movies, which also belong to the so-called Conjuring Universe. Tony Amendola, who appeared in the original “Annabelle” tale, reprises his role from that here. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries; deleted scenes; storyboards. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“TOLKIEN”: The life of the writer who gave the world one of its most beloved fantasy sagas – “The Lord of the Rings,” of course – is dramatized, with Nicholas Hoult playing the author in his younger years, collecting experiences and relationships that would help fuel his later work. Teaching at Oxford University and participating in World War I were among the chapters J.R.R. Tolkien experienced firsthand, as well as a romance that impacted him profoundly; Lily Collins (“Masterpiece: Les Miserables”) portrays the woman he adored, who eventually became his wife (and the inspiration for the “Rings” character Arwen). Colm Meaney and Derek Jacobi also appear in the film, which the Tolkien estate did not cooperate with. DVD extras: audio commentary by director Dome Karukoski; deleted scenes; photo gallery. *** (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“AMAZING GRACE”: Long before it finally reached theater screens, this documentary generated many news stories because its subject – the late music icon Aretha Franklin – filed lawsuits to prevent its release. She recorded her huge-selling album “Amazing Grace” over two nights of gospel concerts at a church in the Watts section of Los Angeles in 1972, and later Oscar winner Sydney Pollack (“Out of Africa”) filmed the performances. As powerful as they were, with even Franklin saying she liked the footage, she didn’t want it released … reportedly fearing the public would react to her star power more than to the meaning of the music, after some technical snafus had been cleared up by digital means. Ultimately, one of the producers appealed to Franklin’s estate after her passing, resulting in the picture’s exhibition almost 50 years later. Selections include “How I Got Over” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and now, the movie also serves as a reflective testament to one of the greatest voices in the history of music. **** (G)

“AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: WOODSTOCK: THREE DAYS THAT DEFINED A GENERATION”: Debuting on home video in the same week it gets its PBS premiere, director, producer and co-writer Barak Goodman’s 50th-anniversary documentary explores the circumstances that led to one of the most legendary – and some understandably would argue “the most” — of all rock concerts. Woodstock, N.Y., was the setting on which 400,000-plus attendees converged … and as opposed to the Oscar-winning 1970 movie that gave much of its attention to the featured musical acts, this profile focuses on those who were witnesses to the events from off the stage, including security guards who surely had their hands full and the local population whose number swelled for three very memorable days. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“POMS”: There’s no expiration date on becoming a cheerleader, as this comedy suggests. Also an executive producer of the picture, Diane Keaton plays a new resident of a retirement community who prefers to keep to herself at first, but she eventually opens up under the encouragement of a spirited new neighbor (Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”). Together, they then inspire some of their peers to join her in forming an energetic squad that gets its rah-rahs on. Pam Grier, Rhea Perlman, Celia Weston and Bruce McGill are among co-stars. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“Avengers: Endgame”




“A DOG’S JOURNEY” (Aug. 20)

“THE HUSTLE” (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.

jbobbin has 2095 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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