DVD Releases – week of March 29 2020

STARTING THIS WEEK (New releases):

“STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER”: Devotees of the George Lucas-created “galaxy far, far away” are understandably particular about the treatment of it in each new chapter, and while this latest one – directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams — wraps up a lot, it received mixed reactions from the Jedi-faithful. The race is on by characters both veteran and recently introduced to stop the establishment of a new intergalactic Empire overseen by the Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), thought to have been eliminated by king evildoer Darth Vader (whose voice still is furnished by James Earl Jones), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Carrie Fisher appears again as Leia Organa via footage that wasn’t used in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and Mark Hamill fulfills the title’s promise by returning as Luke Skywalker. Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Billy Dee Williams and Anthony Daniels (as C-3PO) also are back, and Richard E. Grant and Keri Russell (who was television’s “Felicity” for Abrams) are among notable newcomers. *** (PG-13: V) (Also on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD)

“THE CURRENT WAR”: The title of Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s drama is quite clever, since the reference is to “current” as in “electric current” – the source of the 19th-century rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, played here by Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon, respectively. As the two innovators competed for cities to adopt the electricity-delivery system each man had developed, personal and professional hurdles arose in the path of each of them. Nicholas Hoult portrays Nikola Tesla, who lent his own expertise to each of the inventors at one time or another; the fine cast also includes Katherine Waterston, Tom Holland and “Succession’s” Matthew Macfadyen. *** (PG-13: AS. V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

“MR. ROBOT: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON”: It’s entirely possible that without the Emmy-winning success he had with this immensely unique USA Network series, Rami Malek might not have landed the Freddie Mercury role that brought him an Oscar for “Bohemian Rhapsody,” nor the central-villain slot in the soon-to-debut James Bond caper “No Time to Die.” This concluding stanza of writer-producer-director Sam Esmail’s saga finds his character Elliot still a pawn of various forces in a cyberwar, though his life expectancy appears to have been shortened considerably — forcing him to use his own devices, both figurative and literal, to try to prevent that from taking effect. Carly Chaikin, Portia Doubleday, Michael Cristofer, Grace Gummer and BD Wong also continue as cast regulars … at least when these final stories begin. A “Complete Series” set also is newly available. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)

“CODA”: Though he’s on “Star Trek: Picard” turf by reprising a signature character on television these days, Patrick Stewart has quite a different role in this drama, in which he has an intriguing partnership with Katie Holmes. He plays a veteran concert pianist whose development of stage fright threatens to cripple his career, but the music critic portrayed by Holmes turns out to be a surprising source of encouragement for him to move past his fears. Despite some cliches that the script can’t avoid, it provides a solid part for Stewart, and he makes the most of it. Giancarlo Esposito also stars for director Claude Lalonde. *** (Not rated: AS, P)

“MUNSTER, GO HOME!”: Most of the cast of the mid-1960s sitcom that played horror for laughs transitioned to this 1966 big-screen spinoff, now making its Blu-ray debut. Released just after the television series ended, the tale takes Herman (Fred Gwynne) – the Frankenstein-monster-like patriarch of an offbeat family – to England to claim an inheritance, with the rest of his clan in tow. They’re targeted for scares, but their enemies clearly don’t realize they’re dealing with the Munsters. Yvonne De Carlo, Al Lewis and Butch Patrick continue their roles, and the major recasting is Debbie Watson as relatively “normal” daughter Marilyn. Co-stars include Terry-Thomas, Hermione Gingold, Richard Dawson, Robert Pine (father of Chris) and fright-film staple John Carradine. Special features include the 1981 TV-movie “The Munsters’ Revenge,” also with Gwynne, De Carlo and Lewis. *** (Not rated)

“STYLE QUEENS: JENNIFER LOPEZ”: Continuing a series of profiles that began with Taylor Swift earlier in the month, this portrait of multiple-threat talent Lopez — who recently raised her “buzz” quotient even higher with her much-discussed performance in the Super Bowl halftime show — focuses primarily on her clothing sense, which has served her well throughout the various facets of her career. That dates back to her early days as a Fly Girl on the series “In Living Color,” and she certainly has maintained her place as a style icon through her tenures on “American Idol” and “World of Dance” … and also in such movies as last year’s “Hustlers,” which earned her some of the best reviews she’s had to date as an actress. *** (Not rated)

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

COMING SOON (Upcoming releases):

“CATS” (April 7)

“DOLITTLE” (April 7)

“LITTLE WOMEN” (April 7)


“JUST MERCY” (April 14)



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 2287 posts and counting.See all posts by jbobbin

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