DVD Releases (for week of May 19)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD”: What was planned as the final chapter of the animated trilogy hits a number of emotional high points and sends out the franchise in a satisfying way. Jay Baruchel is back as the voice of the Viking named Hiccup, whose friendship with the dragon Toothless remains strong. Though Toothless is thought to be the last of his kind, a female dragon proves that wrong – and both eventually are imperiled by a villain voiced by Oscar winner F. Murray Abraham. Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill and Craig Ferguson are among other returnees to the voice cast, with the overall result again enhanced by characters and an animation style that are easy to embrace. DVD extras: 12 “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by director and co-writer Dean DeBlois, producer Bradford Lewis and head of character animation Simon Otto; alternate opening; deleted scenes; two short subjects. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THE UPSIDE”: Bryan Cranston demonstrates again what a chameleon he is as an actor in director Neil Burger’s (“Limitless”) involving Americanization of the much-lauded French film “Les Intouchables.” The “Breaking Bad” alum and comedian Kevin Hart make an unlikely acting team, but their differences are precisely the reasons the movie works. Cranston plays a rich businessman left quadriplegic by a hang-gliding accident, while Hart plays a parolee who needs gainful employment … bringing him to the home of the Cranston character, where the chip on Hart’s shoulder almost prevents him from taking a job that will turn out to be life-changing for both men. While the emphasis is on those actors, Nicole Kidman also stars as Cranston’s assistant. DVD extras: five “making-of” documentaries; theatrical trailer; deleted scenes; outtakes. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“MASTERPIECE: LES MISERABLES”: A much-filmed tale gets an expansive and compelling retelling in this PBS/BBC co-production of the Victor Hugo classic, tracing the long-ranging animosity between desperate thief Jean Valjean and his dogged pursuer Inspector Javert – played here respectively by Dominic West (“The Affair”) and David Oyelowo (“Selma”), both producers of the project as well. Among other notable cast members are Lily Collins as Fantine and Olivia Colman (who would win an Oscar for “The Favourite” after she filmed this) as Madame Thenardier. The Hugo work was adapted for this version by two-time Emmy winner Andrew Davies, co-writer of the original British version of “House of Cards” … who said that he never read the novel before getting this assignment. *** (Not rated: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“ISN’T IT ROMANTIC”: “Pitch Perfect” staple Rebel Wilson gets a showcase for herself in this romantic comedy about … a romantic comedy, which she lives in her mind after her New York architect character has an encounter with a mugger. When she revives, her world is a heightened reality in which everything and everyone appears to be much more than they were before, even in the love department, prompting her to want her real life back. The story’s alternate-world conceit doesn’t hold up all the way, but Wilson is quite game, fun and watchable throughout; her co-stars include fellow “Pitch Perfect” alum Adam DeVine, Liam Hemsworth, Priyanka Chopra (“Quantico”) and Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”). DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“EARTHQUAKE”: One of the biggest hits of the 1970s disaster-movie wave gets a Blu-ray “Collector’s Edition” relaunch that contains two versions of the film – the original theatrical cut, plus an variation prepared for broadcast television that offers an additional 20 minutes-plus. The next-to-last picture made by veteran director Mark Robson, the epic doesn’t skimp on special effects (Oscar-winning ones, at that) as “the big one” hits Los Angeles. Among those caught in the resulting mayhem: an architect (Charlton Heston) torn between his drama-prone wife (Ava Gardner) and a late friend’s widow (Genevieve Bujold); a hot-tempered cop (George Kennedy); and a motorcycle stunt-show daredevil (Richard Roundtree). A fun fact is that the quake footage contained here was used over and over in various television shows also made by Universal Studios. Lorne Greene, Victoria Principal, Marjoe Gortner and Lloyd Nolan also star. Several new documentaries about the making of the film are included. *** (PG: AS, P, V)

“ROBBERY”: Making its home-video debut in the U.S., this British crime drama is notable in its own right and also for what else it yielded, since its style made Steve McQueen determined to land (which he did) director and co-writer Peter Yates for his classic movie “Bullitt.” The subject is the so-called Great Train Robbery of 1963, in which a gang leader (played here by Stanley Baker, also a producer of the film) faced a number of obstacles – including a suspicious police inspector (James Booth) — in trying to pull off a heist aboard a Royal Mail locomotive. Joanna Pettet (a London native, though she did a lot of American work before she retired) and veteran English actors Frank Finlay and Barry Foster also star. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):


“GRETA” (May 28)



“GLORIA BELL” (June 4)



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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