DVD Releases – week of March 15 2020

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“JUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVEL”: Dwayne Johnson scored one of his biggest hits with the update of the Robin Williams-starring fantasy-comedy-adventure, so the game is on again with this sequel directed and co-written by Jake Kasdan. Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan again play the avatars used by several young friends to enter a video game, this time in search of one of their own (Alex Wolff) who has vanished inside the alternate universe with his grandfather and a family friend (portrayed by two famous Dannys, DeVito and Glover respectively). The group, not surprisingly, faces various atmospheres and perils in the course of the hunt. Of course, the picture’s special-effects team has a field day with the “anything goes” premise that yields plot twists and inventive visuals. Johnson also is among the movie’s producers; Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain and Morgan Turner return as the other youthful pals. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD)

“RICHARD JEWELL”: Clint Eastwood is a specialist in telling stories of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, and it’s the case once more with this latest project he directed, recalling the true situation of a security guard hailed as a hero for saving lives in a bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics … but then is suspected of being the person who planted the explosives. Eastwood’s best move was to cast a relative unknown in the title role, though that actor is surrounded by familiar faces. Paul Walter Hauser does quite a good job as Jewell, who takes himself a bit too seriously when he’s on patrol but gets endless encouragement and support from his mother, played by recent Oscar nominee Kathy Bates. His time to shine arises during that fateful moment in Atlanta, but just as quickly as he’s celebrated, he becomes vilified after a former boss arouses suspicions about what Jewell did. That gets the FBI and reporters interested – and though the respective roles are well-played by Jon Hamm and Olivia Wilde, people who actually have those careers aren’t likely to be fans of how they’re depicted here. Sam Rockwell comes off a bit better as the attorney who agrees to represent Jewell against his accusers. DVD extra: “making-of” documentary. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“BLACK CHRISTMAS”: Filmed twice before, this horror premise is an easy one — maybe too easy — to go back to for some simple holiday-season chills. Sorority sisters again become targets of an unknown attacker, but it’s interesting to note that this version was directed by a woman (Sophia Takal, who also wrote the film with April Wolfe). Imogen Poots plays the central heroine who tries to protect herself and her friends from the threat, and the tale generally goes through the traditional motions of the genre, replete with climactic twists that devotees of such films may see coming from a mile away. Brittany O’Grady (“Star”), Cary Elwes and Madeleine Adams are among other members of the cast. ** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“CRASHING: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON”: Pete Holmes wrapped up his HBO sitcom with this final round of the personal and professional misadventures of a stand-up comedian. Here, in one of the main story arcs, the fictionalized Pete gets a new girlfriend (Madeline Wise) who’s alarmed by his still-close friendship with his ex (Jamie Lee). Fellow comic John Mulaney appears as himself in what turned out to be the series’ finale; Seth Meyers, Ray Romano and “The Brady Bunch’s” Eve Plumb are among other guest stars. An executive producer of the show along with Holmes, Judd Apatow was involved in writing and/or directing some of the episodes. *** (Not rated: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)

“A HIDDEN LIFE”: From acclaimed writer-director Terrence Malick (“Days of Heaven,” “Badlands”), famous for taking his time in turning out product, this long but involving drama recounts the true story of an Austrian farmer (played by August Diehl) who initially refused to join in the Nazi effort during World War II — despite having trained for such duty. Imprisoned for treason, he tries to keep his relationship with his wife (Valerie Pachner) strong while she tends to the family farm and is made an outcast by others who have yielded to the Third Reich’s demands. Though set against the canvas of world history, this is very much in line with the personal stories that always have been Malick’s specialties. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: THE POISON SQUAD”: The Food and Drug Administration has been a well-known agency for some time, but how it came to be is explained by this recently televised installment of the PBS documentary series. Based on a book by Deborah Blum (who appears in the program), it recalls how a government chemist enlisted 12 young men to be test experiments to expose dangerous chemicals plentiful enough to cause alarm over America’s food supply at the end of the 19th century. Those who participated had to agree not to sue the government if they became sickened — or worse — by anything that might happen to them as a result of the process. The public’s response to reports on the project led to the creation and passing of related legislation. *** (Not rated)

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):


“THE GRUDGE” (March 24)

“1917” (March 24)

“THE CURRENT WAR” (March 31)



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 2289 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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