DVD Releases (for week of Sept. 8)

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

Mena Massoud in “Aladdin”

“ALADDIN”: It’s a whole new world, all right, when it comes to one of the Disney studio’s recent effort to turn an animated classic into a live-action feature. Given the exotic nature of the tale, you know it’s going to be a big production – so the catch is to keep the songs and emotions from being dwarfed by the outsized visual value, which director Guy Ritchie clearly puts an emphasis on. The true star here is Will Smith as the genie; reinventing a role so strongly associated with Robin Williams is a tall order, and it takes someone who can inject his own mighty personality into the part. That would be Smith, whose genie is set free by young Aladdin (Mena Massoud), who needs his help to win the heart of Princess Jasmine (Naomi Scott). This newer “Aladdin” casts its spell to a certain degree, but for the full experience, keep the 1992 cartoon in mind – which isn’t hard to do, since a new “Signature Collection” of that version also is debuting on home video. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 — PARABELLUM”: This action franchise certainly knows its audience by now, so it’s no shock that the latest chapter only amps up the mayhem, and to appreciable effect. Keanu Reeves remains ideally cast as the hit man of few words but lots of lethal moves, finding himself the target of many other assassins after committing a killing at a New York hotel that was supposed to be off-limits for such an act. Wick then goes on the international run to stay alive, getting particular help from a woman from his past, played by Halle Berry (brushing up on her “Die Another Day” skills). Anjelica Huston also plays a helper, and an expected standout on the side of the enemies is Asia Kate Dillon (“Billions”). Ian McShane and Reeves’ ”Matrix” crony Laurence Fishburne also are on board again, but as in the earlier “Wick” adventures, dogs might be the cast members most beloved by viewers. Really. DVD extras: two theatrical trailers; three “making-of” documentaries. *** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“THIS IS US: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON”: As the new year of the much-acclaimed NBC show (which already has been renewed through Season 6) approaches, this round currently is up for nine Emmy Awards including outstanding drama series and individual bids for Milo Ventimiglia, Mandy Moore and Sterling K. Brown (the latter already an Emmy winner for the show). Stories here include a risky journey toward parenthood by Kate and Toby (Chrissy Metz, Emmy nominee Chris Sullivan), Kevin’s (Justin Hartley) determination to find out about Jack’s (Ventimiglia) time in Vietnam, and Beth’s (Susan Kelechi Watson) struggle to maintain her own personhood as Randall (Brown) becomes increasingly immersed in politics. Notable guests during the season include Griffin Dunne and Emmy nominee Michael Angarano (as the same character at different ages) as well as Emmy-nominated Phylicia Rashad. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

“ARMSTRONG”: This documentary about the first man to walk on the moon may have missed the recent rush of offerings tied to the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, but it might benefit from standing apart from that pack in its home-video debut. The personal life and quite public career of astronaut Neil Armstrong – a rather reluctant hero — are traced through film clips and comments from many who knew him well, including his widow and children, crewmate Michael Collins and recently deceased NASA flight director Chris Kraft. The narration is in the form of Armstrong’s own words, spoken by Harrison Ford. *** (Not rated: P) (Also on Blu-ray)

“THE ALIENIST”: Set in late-19th-century New York (but actually filmed in Budapest), this made-for-TNT melodrama based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel earned an Emmy Award for its visual effects. A criminal psychologist (played by Daniel Bruhl) and a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) are teamed by Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) – then the city’s police commissioner – to launch a covert investigation into the serial murders of young male prostitutes. They get an unexpected partner in a secretary (Dakota Fanning) who wants to prove her value as a novice detective. Douglas Smith and Matthew Shear co-star in the limited series as twin siblings who could prove pivotal to solving the case. Sean Young, Ted Levine and Michael Ironside also appear. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

“ECHO IN THE CANYON”: Some of the best-known names in mid-1960s pop and folk music are among the subjects of this documentary, which recalls the rise of the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles as a haven for acts such as the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds. The latter group’s Roger McGuinn is among those commenting on the creative center that the area became, with Jackson Browne, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, Norah Jones, Fiona Apple, Beck and Jakob Dylan also discussing the major influences that the tunes of that time and place became. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

Jennifer Lawrence in “Dark Phoenix”

“DARK PHOENIX” (Sept. 17)



“HOLOCAUST” (Sept. 24)

“THE STAND” (Sept. 24)


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 2320 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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