DVD Releases (for week of March 11)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Justice Leage
Ben Affleck and Gal Gadot in “Justice Leage”

“JUSTICE LEAGUE”: In the absence of Superman (Henry Cavill, whose naming here may indicate that he’s not completely absent), Batman and Wonder Woman (Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot) lead other superheroes in battling evil and protecting Earth from power-craving villain Steppenwolf (computer-generated, with the voice of Ciaran Hinds) in this merging of many DC Comics characters. The other principal crusaders for justice in the saga – handled largely by franchise-veteran director Zack Snyder, and incorporating welcome touches of humor that were missing from many of its forerunners – are The Flash (played by Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Jeremy Irons and J.K. Simmons are among other cast members of earlier DC-inspired adventures who return here. DVD extras: 10 “making-of” documentaries. *** (PG-13: V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE SHAPE OF WATER”: Able to boast the rare achievement of scoring 13 Oscar nominations — with four wins, including best picture and director — Guillermo del Toro’s striking-looking (thanks to cinematographer Dan Laustsen) fantasy-drama casts Sally Hawkins as a worker in a top-secret Baltimore government laboratory during the Cold War. Her isolated existence changes radically when she discovers a captured, amphibious creature (Doug Jones) and forms a relationship with it, planning to help it escape. The first-rate cast also includes Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nick Searcy and David Hewlett. Also of note is the smartly composed, Oscar-honored music score by Alexandre Desplat. DVD extras: theatrical trailers; four “making-of” documentaries; “Guillermo del Toro’s Master Class.” **** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“I, TONYA”: The Tonya in question is disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, superbly played by Oscar nominee Margot Robbie, in director Craig Gillespie’s docudrama tracing her life throughout the years with her colorful mother … a decidedly different kind of “Mom” as evoked in a sterling performance by Allison Janney that rightfully earned an Academy Award (and many other honors). Of course, the story takes a major turn with the attack on skating rival Nancy Kerrigan, involving others who were in Harding’s circle at the time. The script by Steven Rogers also allows for juicy roles for Sebastian Stan (as Jeff Gillooly), Julianne Nicholson and Bobby Cannavale. Of note is that Robbie performed some of the skating herself, no simple feat given what Harding accomplished on the ice before she was banned for life by the United States Figure Skating Association. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“CALL ME BY YOUR NAME”: An Oscar nominee for best picture and actor (Timothee Chalamet, recent recipient of a Film Independent Spirit Award), director Luca Guadagnino’s drama examines a life-changing relationship. Adapted for the screen from Andre Aciman’s novel by veteran filmmaker James Ivory – who won an Academy Award for his script – the story casts Chalamet and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) – as two men who meet in mid-1980s Italy and proceed to become very involved with each other. Michael Stuhlbarg also is featured, but as the picture’s award-season trail has suggested, it’s particularly notable for the star-making showcase it gives Chalamet. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Chalamet and Stuhlbarg; music video (“Mystery of Love” by Sufjan Stevens). *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE HANDMAID’S TALE: SEASON ONE”: One of the series that have put streaming services in the map, through wide acclaim and many award wins, this Hulu adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel stars Emmy recipient Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”) as an oppressed member of a future society. The atmosphere is so highly charged among different factions with their own agendas, any individual must tread carefully to survive … certainly including Moss’ character, who also is determined to find the daughter she’s been separated from. Alexis Bledel (“Gilmore Girls”), Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski (“Chuck”), fellow Emmy winner Ann Dowd and Samira Wiley (“Orange Is the New Black”) also are in the cast of the intense drama, which is about to yield a second season. DVD extras: two “making-of” documentaries, **** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“THE DISASTER ARTIST”: James Franco directed and also stars in this fact-inspired comedy, for which he recently earned a Golden Globe Award by playing Tommy Wiseau, the driving force behind what became a disaster of a movie titled “The Room.’’ He gets an acting-class acquaintance (Dave Franco, James’ brother) to participate in the project with him, but neither sees just how much trouble lies ahead for them. The cast is loaded with Hollywood notables including Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Seth Rogen, Kristen Bell, Zac Efron and Megan Mullally, helping to add cred to the story being told. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were Oscar-nominated for their screenplay. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; three “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Franco, Wiseau and others; outtakes. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

Kristen Wig and Matt Damon in “Downsizing”

“DOWNSIZING” (March 20): Director Alexander Payne’s satire casts Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig as spouses who opt to be miniaturized. (R: AS, N, P)

“JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE” (March 20): Four high-school students discover the game that fueled the original “Jumanji” and become trapped inside it; stars include Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black. (PG-13: AS, P)

“PITCH PERFECT 3” (March 20): The singing Bellas reunite to take part in an international competition during a USO tour; Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson return. (PG-13: AS, P)

“LEGION: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE” (March 27): In the FX fantasy-drama series, Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”) plays a man who may be a mutant. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“MR. ROBOT: SEASON_3.0” (March 27): The discord between the title character (Christian Slater) and cyber-engineer Elliot (Emmy winner Rami Malek) deepens. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“MOLLY’S GAME” (April 10): Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut casts Jessica Chastain in the true story of a woman who ran an exclusive poker game. (R: AS, 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 1794 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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