DVD Releases (for week of July 9)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Vin Diesel stars as Dominic Toretto in "The Fate of the Furious"
Vin Diesel stars as Dominic Toretto in “The Fate of the Furious”

“THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS”: Even with some twists in the concept, the franchise remains potent – as confirmed by the huge box-office take – in this eighth edition, directed by F. Gary Gray (“Straight Outta Compton”). Vin Diesel’s Dom turn against his hard-driving crew, even after having just married his love Letty (Michelle Rodriguez), at the behest of a mystery woman (Charlize Theron) who wants his help in a scheme involving nuclear warheads and submarines. The late Paul Walker’s character Brian is referenced, and additional returnees include the enjoyably paired Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham – who may be getting their own movie out of this – as well as Kurt Russell. Also notable, if improbable, among the newcomers here is Helen Mirren (seriously, did you ever expect to see her in one of these?) … and, as usual, the stunt performers deserve equal star billing for their engineering of visually jaw-dropping scenes. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by Gray; extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE LOST CITY OF Z”: Inspired by a true story, screenwriter-director James Gray’s (“We Own the Night”) early-20th-century drama focuses on explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), who investigates evidence of an unknown civilization in the Amazon. He returns there time and again to seek what he’s looking for, with considerable backing from his loved ones (Sienna Miller and, as the grown son, Tom Holland) and an associate (Robert Pattinson). Ultimately, he disappears, but others refuse to believe his quest has ended. Brad Pitt (who originally was meant to star) was an executive producer of the film, which also features Angus Macfadyen and veteran performer Franco Nero. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE”: Those lovable blue creatures return in another animated feature, putting them on a search for said title village – which their perennial nemesis Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson) is trying to reach before they do. Smurfette (voice of Demi Lovato) and her cohorts have to make their way through a Forbidden Forest to reach their destination. Julia Roberts (yes, she’s a Smurf here!) Mandy Patinkin, Jack McBrayer (“30 Rock”), Danny Pudi, Joe Manganiello, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper and Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”) also are in the voice cast. DVD extras: 10 “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by cast and crew members; music video. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“MASTERPIECE: MY MOTHER AND OTHER STRANGERS”: The mayhem, emotional and otherwise, that a family gets into in World War II-era Northern Ireland fuels this still-airing PBS “Masterpiece” drama. The saga opens with the married Rose Coyne (played by Hattie Morahan, of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”) newly attracted to an American military man (Aaron Staton,”Mad Men”), which doesn’t make her husband’s (Owen McDonnell) efforts to meet her expectations any easier. Meanwhile, her daughter Emma (Eileen O’Higgins) stirs trouble by going on a date. Ciaran Hinds also appears, and those who view this set as soon as it’s released will get to see the final episode before it’s televised in the U.S. *** (Not rated: AS)

“THEIR FINEST”: Movies were a major source of inspiration for the public during World War II, and this seriocomic, BBC-co-produced story – based on Lissa Evans’ novel – is shaped around the making of such a film. Gemma Arterton plays the writer of such a project, intended not only to be a spiritual lift for England but also a lure for America to join the war effort. Bill Nighy, who knows something about playing a faded celebrity masterfully (“Love Actually”), has another role in that vein as an actor drawn into the movie. Sam Claflin, Jack Huston (“Ben-Hur”), Helen McCrory, Eddie Marsan and Richard E. Grant also star. DVD extras: “making-of” documentary; audio commentary by director Lone Scherfig. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“NORMAN: THE MODERATE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF A NEW YORK FIXER”: Richard Gere stars as the title “fixer” in this drama, someone striving to be at the center of power among the Big Apple’s elite. He gets that chance by championing a young politician (Lior Ashkenazi) who eventually becomes a major mover and shaker, making Norman think he’s finally hit the career jackpot. Before he knows it, though, things start to go south … with an international crisis the potential result. The cast also is loaded with other familiar faces including Hank Azaria, Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”), Josh Charles (“The Good Wife”) and Harris Yulin. DVD extras: Q&A session with Gere and director Joseph Cedar; red-carpet footage. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

Brie Larson stars as Justine in “Free Fire.”

“FREE FIRE” (July 18): An arms deal devolves quickly into an armed battle among those involved; Brie Larson, Armie Hammer and Sharlto Copley star. (R: AS, P, V)

“KONG: SKULL ISLAND” (July 18): In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, a group of explorers encounters the enormous ape; Tom Hiddleston and Brie Larson star. (PG-13: P, V)

“THE PROMISE” (July 18): In the waning days of the Ottoman Empire, a couple’s (Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon) mutual attraction generates problems. (PG-13: AS, V)

“THE BOSS BABY” (July 25): Alec Baldwin voices an infant whose arrival means less attention to his older sibling in this animated comedy. (PG: AS)

“GHOST IN THE SHELL” (July 25): Scarlett Johansson stars in the live-action version of the Japanese manga series about a rebelling uber-soldier. (PG-13: AS, V)

“UNFORGETTABLE” (July 25): A woman (Katherine Heigl) is determined to get her ex-husband’s (Geoff Stults) new love (Rosario Dawson) out of his life … forever. (R: AS, N, P, V)


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 1311 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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